Youngkin defends support of election denier Kari Lake in Arizona

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CNN
 — 

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Sunday defended his support for fellow Republican Kari Lake, an election denier running for governor in Arizona, arguing that their party needs to be inclusive of a wide range of members in order to be successful.

“In order for us to press forward in the Republican Party, we, in fact, need to do that, look forward, not backwards,” Youngkin told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” when asked about his plan to campaign for Lake.

“What I found in Virginia was that we could bring together ‘Forever Trumpers’ and ‘Never Trumpers,’ and libertarians and tea party members, and, oh, by the way, lots of independents and lots of Democrats,” said Youngkin, who catapulted into the national spotlight after winning the governorship in blue-trending Virginia last year. “And I think that the Republican Party has to be a party where we are not shunning people and excluding them, because we don’t agree on everything.”

“What Arizona deserves is a Republican governor who will keep taxes down, who will support school choice, who will bring companies into the economy to create opportunity,” Youngkin said.

Lake won the GOP nomination for Arizona governor in August over an opponent backed by more establishment-leaning Republicans. She has said that she would not have certified President Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona, repeatedly calling the election “stolen” and “corrupt.”

Youngkin has been campaigning for Republican candidates across the country as the midterm elections loom, and his comments Sunday put a fine point on his vision for a party that includes both members disillusioned by Donald Trump and those like Lake, who has tied herself closely to the former President in her campaign, telling supporters they can call her “Trump in a dress any day.”

Youngkin, who is not eligible to run for reelection as Virginia law bars governors from serving consecutive terms, declined to say Sunday whether he planned to mount a White House bid after leaving office. Asked by Tapper about his future ambitions, he said he was “focused on getting some Republican congressional candidates elected in Virginia and some governors elected around the nation.”

“2024 is a long way away. And I’m really humbled by the speculation, but right now, I’m very focused on Virginia,” he said.