Conservatives tore into failed Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie in the wake of his defeat Tuesday night — blasting the Bush ally for playing “footsie” with economic nationalism and for rejecting Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon’s help.
“Ed Gillespie had no coherent message, was inauthentic, spoke from both sides of his mouth and at the end of the day, even the deplorables couldn’t save him,” Andy Surabian, a former Trump White House staffer and political adviser to Bannon, told ABC News.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham accused Gillespie of “playing footsie with conservative populism.”
Gillespie, a former White House adviser to President George W. Bush and former RNC Chairman, pivoted to an economic nationalist campaign after nosediving in the polls. Campaigning on combatting MS-13, banning sanctuary cities, and pledging to protect Virginia’s historical figures and monuments, he saw a surge in the polls — making the race suddenly competitive.
But it wasn’t enough, and Gillespie was soundly thrashed by Democratic opponent Ralph Northam. Amid the post-mortems came the revelation that Gillespie had rejected an offer of help from Bannon — who had guided a number of candidates, including President Trump, to electoral glory.
According to the Daily Beast, Bannon had extended “multiple offers” to Gillespie to campaign and hold rallies together, but Gillespie refused. Gillespie also declined to do interviews with Breitbart News or appear on the Breitbart News Daily radio show.
According to ABC News, Bannon made it known that he was concerned about Gillespie’s “lack of energy” and his close ties to Bush.
Gillespie’s woes are reminiscent of Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) who, in the Alabama Senate race, attempted to embrace Trump’s agenda while keeping his feet firmly in the ground of the establishment. Strange was soundly defeated by outsider Judge Roy Moore.
President Trump also recognized the conservative criticism of Gillespie, tweeting that while Gillespie worked hard, he “did not embrace me or what I stand for.”
“Tonight proves you can’t put lipstick on an establishment pig,” Surabian told the HIll.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.