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Trump gushes about Youngkin, hammers Biden in first post-debate campaign stop in Chesapeake

Former President Donald Trump made his first post-debate campaign stop in Chesapeake at Greenbrier Farms on June 28.
Photo by Zach D. Roberts
Former President Donald Trump made his first post-debate campaign stop in Chesapeake at Greenbrier Farms on June 28.

The former president wants to win over swing voters in Hampton Roads by emphasizing the economy and immigration.

Donald Trump cozied up to Gov. Glenn Youngkin during his appearance in Chesapeake Friday as he seeks to woo critical swing voters in Virginia’s suburbs.

Trump’s visit was the second presidential campaign event in Hampton Roads in two days and his first campaign appearance following his debate with President Joe Biden.

Thursday, in advance of the debate, First Lady Jill Biden stopped briefly in Virginia Beach to rally supporters.

During the debate, Trump made persistent false claims about undocumented immigrants committing violent crimes and that tariffs on goods from countries like China would cost the country, not U.S. consumers, despite evidence to the contrary.

Trump took a less extreme stance on abortion on the debate stage, saying he supported protecting access to mifepristone, an FDA-approved medication used for abortions. He falsely contrasted that with Democrats, saying the party believed in more radical abortion practices, like performing the procedure in the last weeks of pregnancy with no medical reason.

At Friday’s event, Trump returned again to immigration and the rise in undocumented migrants since Biden took office in 2021, evoking scenes of lawlessness and chaos that he blamed on those migrants.

The number of immigrants crossing the border illegally has risen sharply since Biden took office, but Biden kept some Trump policies in place when he took office and has put more restrictions into place.

“These millions of people are coming from prisons and jails and mental asylums,” Trump said, repeating a claim that the New York Times says there is no evidence for.“Venezuela has the lowest crime rate in 30 years because they’re taking their gang members and dropping them into Virginia.”

Virginia Republicans said before Trump’s appearance that the economy and safety concerns tied to immigration were issues that would be big motivators for a key swing voter demographic: women without college educations.

Trump hit those topics hard Friday, blaming Biden for inflation and his border policies, incorrectly claiming Biden had completely opened the border after Trump left the White House.

“The suburban women, you know why they like me? Because I’m going to keep them safe, … militarily and also from the standpoint of borders and everything else,” Trump said.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin was a local favorite of former President Donald Trump at his campaign stop in Chesapeake on June 28.
Photo by Zach D. Roberts
Gov. Glenn Youngkin was a local favorite of former President Donald Trump at his campaign stop in Chesapeake on June 28.

White suburban women have been the key to winning in Virginia in recent years, and the group has swung back and forth between parties regularly.

Youngkin won the governorship in 2021, in large part by appealing to the suburbs and their concerns over what was happening in the schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Motivated by concerns about abortion, college-educated women in the suburbs decided several key statehouse races in 2023, including in Virginia Beach, which allowed Democrats to retake control of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Those are the main voters the presidential campaigns will likely cater their messaging to in the coming months, as Trump did on Friday. Republicans believe that Trump can woo these swing voters and win Virginia – a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican for president since 2004.

Trump was also highly complimentary of Youngkin during his remarks Friday, giving the governor several shoutouts and inviting him to speak twice..

“I’m honored to be here with your governor. … He’s got common sense, he’s got great policy. He’s got the policy that made America great,” Trump said of Youngkin.

Youngkin is among those rumored to be on the list of politicians Trump could be considering for a running mate.

Though his policy ambitions have been stymied by Democratic control of the General Assembly, Youngkin has remained relatively popular in Virginia. The Republican governor initially won election in 2021, in part, by keeping then-president Trump at arm’s length during his campaign.

He’s since given a full-throated endorsement of Trump.

State and local GOP members were at Greenbrier Farms to show support, including former governors Bob McDonnell and George Allen, as well as Congresswoman Jen Kiggans.

Corrected: July 2, 2024 at 2:25 PM EDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated the dates of Democratic control of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Ryan is WHRO’s business and growth reporter. He joined the newsroom in 2021 after eight years at local newspapers, the Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot. Ryan is a Chesapeake native and still tries to hold his breath every time he drives through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.

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