- Glenn Youngkin on Thursday criticized the use of a US flag tied to Jan. 6 during a GOP rally.
- The Va. GOP gubernatorial nominee said that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to such a flag was "wrong."
- The event featured speakers including former President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.
Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin on Thursday criticized attendees of a recent GOP rally who recited the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag that was said to have been flown at a Jan. 6 rally near the US Capitol before the deadly riot at the complex, according to The Associated Press.
Youngkin, a former private equity executive who is currently locked in a tight race with former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, did not attend the "Take Back Virginia" rally on Wednesday in the electorally-pivotal Richmond suburb of Henrico County.
However, when pressed to respond to the usage of the flag in question for the pledge, the first-time candidate in a statement disavowed the action. The emcee at the event said that the flag "was carried at the peaceful rally with Donald J. Trump on Jan. 6."
"It is weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6," he expressed. "As I have said many times before, the violence that occurred on January 6 was sickening and wrong."
The event, which featured a call from former President Donald Trump and an appearance by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, was organized by conservative talk show host John Fredericks, who was Trump's ex-campaign chairman in Virginia.
McAuliffe, who served as governor of the Commonwealth from 2014 to 2018, on Thursday challenged Youngkin to "go before the cameras" and state that the pledge to the Jan. 6 flag was unseemly and called the action "one of the darkest moments" of the Republican nominee's campaign.
"'Weird??' Glenn – people died during the January 6th riot Donald Trump and others celebrated in your honor last night," he wrote. "If you can't condemn last night's rally and Trump's deadly conspiracies, you don't have the courage or character to serve as governor."
At the rally, Trump, who previously endorsed Youngkin, implored his supporters to back the first-time candidate.
"Glenn Youngkin is a great gentleman," Trump said via phone. "We've got to get him in. I know Terry McAuliffe very well and he was a lousy governor."
In 2009, Trump donated $25,000 to McAuliffe's unsuccessful gubernatorial primary campaign – the former Democratic National Committee chairman went on the win the governorship four years later, defeating then-GOP state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
While speaking via phone, Trump continued to repeat his grievances about the 2020 presidential race, calling it "the most corrupt election in the history of our country," according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Despite no evidence of mass voter fraud in Virginia, Bannon, who faces criminal contempt charges for refusing to cooperate with the bipartisan Jan. 6 House committee, said that the close gubernatorial race casts doubt on President Joe Biden's 10-point victory (54%-44%) over the former president in the Commonwealth last year.
"He didn't win by 10 points, OK, no doubt about that," Bannon said at the event, according to The Times-Dispatch, while providing no evidence to support his claim
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday called the rally "truly disturbing" and rejected Bannon's election claim as "delusional," pointing to a March audit that confirmed the Commonwealth's voting results.
In the final gubernatorial debate last month, Youngkin said that it was his belief that there was no "material fraud" in last year's election, calling it "certifiably fair."
However, the Republican has still pledged to prioritize election integrity if elected to office, calling for an "audit" of voting machines in the Commonwealth.