Conflicted GOP feelings in Va. for Trump candidacy

By Maya Gray

This election season has been historic to say the least and it culminates on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Up until recently, Donald Trump trailed Hillary Clinton in the polls but due to her ongoing email scandal, the race is now very close. The Trump and Clinton campaigns are working vigorously to garner votes in battleground swing states. Virginia has historically been a swing state, but for this election the Trump campaign for the most part has forfeited the 13 electoral votes.

After the 2005 video of Donald Trump and Billy Bush was released, Virginia GOP leaders called for Trump's removal from the ballot. Shortly after the scandalous video was released, Corey Stewart, the Virginia state chairman of the Trump campaign, staged a protest outside of the Republican National Committee headquarters. The demonstration was held to protest the RNC and their lack of support for Trump, but it was done without the support of the actual Trump campaign. Stewart was warned that if he were to follow through with the protest he would be relieved of his position.

Stewart, who was ultimately fired, did not let that deter him from supporting Trump.

When speaking Oct. 10 to WUSA-TV 9, Stewart said "I am deathly loyal, and I am going to be supporting [Trump] and supporting his candidacy all the way to the end."

Speaking to CNN, the Republican Party's Virginia chairman, John Whitbeck, supported the campaign's "decision to remove their Virginia chairman. With less than a month until Election Day, we can't afford any distractions."

The Trump campaign never officially pulled out of Virginia but decided to focus more on swing states like North Carolina where they believe they have a better chance of winning.

In a CNN article, John Ullyot, deputy political director for communications for Trump's campaign, said "we remain absolutely committed to winning in Virginia. While we're reallocating some of our staff strategically to accommodate early voting in nearby priority states such as North Carolina, our campaign leadership and staffing remains strong in Virginia."

This election has been vital for American youth and it is imperative that the candidates have their support. The Clinton campaign has appealed to the youth and minority vote by being a constant presence on college campuses, especially at HBCUs, including Hampton University.

Yet, Trump support on Virginia college campuses has been almost nonexistent. Students at Liberty University, a Christian college known for its conservative views, renounced their support for Trump. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate recently gave a speech at Liberty and was not met with enthusiasm from the student body.

The students at Liberty released a ">statement after Pence's speech: "We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President [Jerry Jr.] Falwell's endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history. Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him."

Trump's campaign could have done a lot more to secure the votes they needed to win Virginia but that was not their priority. On Tuesday we can see which way Virginia decides to swing to elect our 45th president.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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