© Reuters. Supporters of Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin celebrate as they see results come in on television during an election night party at a hotel in Chantilly, Virginia, U.S., November 2, 2021. REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst
By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the Virginia governor’s election on Wednesday could provide his party with a blueprint on how to retake majorities in Congress next year by wooing suburban moderates without alienating Donald Trump’s supporters.
The former private equity executive’s approach of rallying parents angry about the way schools have handled COVID-19 and teach about racism and gender may serve as a model for Republicans across the country.
Next year’s midterm elections will determine which party controls the U.S. Congress for the last two years of President Joe Biden’s term. Democrats have razor-thin majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate. Control of even one chamber would allow Republicans to block most Democratic legislative priorities.
Youngkin trailed McAuliffe in opinion polls for most of the race, but that gap narrowed to a dead heat in the final weeks, at the same time Biden’s job approval rating fell to the lowest levels of his presidency.
Youngkin, 54, walked a fine line on the false claims by Trump, the former president, that his election defeat in 2020 was the result of widespread fraud, avoiding the topic himself but campaigning with Republican state Senator Amanda Chase who has embraced them.
He also backed Republican arguments that school curriculums that discuss racism are promoting “critical race theory,” a law school concept that maintains racism is ingrained in U.S. law and institutions and that legacies of slavery and segregation have created an uneven playing field for Black Americans.
Schools say they do not include the theory in elementary and high school curriculums, but are trying to respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse U.S. population.
At the same time, Youngkin worked to avoid turning off Virginia’s moderate voters whose growing numbers – especially in the Washington suburbs – have swung the Southern state Democratic in the past four presidential elections.
‘A TRICKY PATH’
Youngkin’s victory may provide a template for Republicans who will walk a fine line in competitive congressional races next year.
“It’s a tricky path,” said Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Kondik said Youngkin deftly distanced himself from Trump while also making pledges to improve election integrity as a way to appeal to Trump voters.
The contest was important enough for Democrats that Biden and former President Barack Obama visited the state to campaign for McAuliffe, 64, in its final weeks. Previously, Virginia had elected just one Republican governor in the past two decades and Democrats currently also control both houses of the state legislature.
Schools were a major focus for Youngkin, who opposes COVID-19 safety rules requiring that masks be worn in Virginia’s classrooms as well as anti-racism education.
Campaigners have brawled at school board meetings over the anti-racism issue this year, prompting the FBI to step up its response to threats against board members.
“It forces our children to view everything through a lens of race,” Youngkin said at a campaign stop in Chesterfield, Virginia, on Oct. 8.
A former chief executive of Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:) Inc , Youngkin also pledged to be tough on criminals, rounding off a basket of issues observers see as tailored to Trump supporters without turning off suburban moderates.
McAuliffe tried to tie Youngkin closely to Trump, running television ads that juxtaposed his opponent’s calls for better election security with images of Trump and the U.S. Capitol riot.
But Youngkin parried those attacks, saying last month it was “weird and wrong” when people at a rally supporting him pledged allegiance to a flag carried by Trump supporters at the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the seat of the U.S. government.
Trump struck a relatively moderate tone when he called in to a pro-Youngkin tele-rally on Monday, telling voters that Youngkin would protect suburbs, while making no mention of his past warnings that Virginia’s election could be marred by fraud. Youngkin did not participate in the rally.
U.S. Capitol riot panel promises new evidence at surprise Tuesday hearing
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A video of former U.S President Donald Trump speaking is shown on a screen during the fifth public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S.
By Richard Cowan and Moira Warburton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. congressional committee plans to reveal new evidence about the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters at a public hearing on Tuesday it hastily announced a mere 24 hours earlier.
The House of Representatives committee, investigating the first attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power in U.S. history, declined to answer questions about who might testify or what evidence would be presented.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then-President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, is expected to testify, several media outlets reported. Representatives of the panel did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports.
The meeting, announced on Monday, is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET (1700 GMT) on Tuesday.
Testimony at five prior hearings has shown how Trump, a Republican, riled thousands of supporters with false claims that he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden because of massive voter fraud.
British filmmaker Alex Holder, who spent time filming Trump and his family in the weeks after the election, has in recent days testified before the committee behind closed doors and shared video of his interviews with Trump and his family, according to media reports.
The committee has said it intends to interview Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, following reports she may have been involved in efforts to stop Biden’s victory certification at the Capitol on Jan. 6. She has said she intended to speak to the panel.
U.S. law enforcement last week raided the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, who was an enthusiastic supporter of Trump’s false fraud claims.
This month’s hearings featured videotaped testimony from figures including Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his former attorney general, Bill Barr. They and other witnesses testified that they did not believe Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud and tried to dissuade him of them.
Dozens of courts, state election officials and reviews by Trump’s own administration rejected his claims of fraud, some of which included outlandish stories about an Italian security firm or the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tampering with U.S. ballots.
Trump, who is publicly flirting with another White House run in 2024, has denied wrongdoing and accused the committee of engaging in a political witch hunt. He has leveled harsh criticism particularly at Representative Liz Cheney, one of just two Republicans on the nine-member committee.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll early this month found that about two-thirds of U.S. Republicans believe Trump’s false election fraud claims.
The committee, sometime next month, is expected to hold one or two hearings on possible coordination of the Jan. 6 attack by right-wing extremist groups.
During the assault on the Capitol, thousands of Trump supporters smashed windows, fought with police and sent lawmakers, including Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, fleeing for their lives.
Four people died the day of the attack, one fatally shot by police and the others of natural causes. More than 100 police officers were injured, and one died the next day. Four officers later died by suicide.
Rescuers dig for survivors after Russian missiles demolish Ukrainian shopping mall
© Reuters. Rescuers work at a site of a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine June 27, 2022. Picture taken June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Anna Voitenko
By Simon Lewis
KREMENCHUK, Ukraine (Reuters) -Firefighters and soldiers searched on Tuesday for survivors in the rubble of a shopping mall in central Ukraine after a Russian missile strike killed at least 18 people in an attack condemned by the United Nations and the West.
More than 1,000 people were inside when two Russian missiles slammed into the mall in Kremenchuk, about 300 km (200 miles) southeast of the capital Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.
At least 18 people were killed and 25 hospitalised, while about 36 were missing, Poltava region governor Dmytro Lunin said.
Zelenskiy, in an overnight video address, called the attack deliberate, saying it was “a calculated Russian strike exactly onto this shopping centre”.
Russia said the incident was caused by a strike on a legitimate military target. Its defence ministry, quoted by the RIA state news agency, said it had fired missiles at a storage depot for Western weapons in Kremenchuk, and the detonation of stored ammunition there had caused the fire at the nearby mall.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova told Reuters a missile had also struck a nearby factory, but it was closed and not a military target.
“It’s a question about crimes against humanity,” she said. “I think it’s like systematical shelling of civilian infrastructure – with what aim? To scare people, to kill people to make terror in our cities and villages.”
Relatives of the missing lined up at a hotel across the street where rescue workers set up a base after Monday’s strike.
A survivor receiving treatment at Kremenchuk’s public hospital, Ludmyla Mykhailets, 43, said she was shopping with her husband when the blast threw her into the air.
“I flew head first and splinters hit my body. The whole place was collapsing,” she said.
“It was hell,” said her husband, Mykola, 45, blood seeping through a bandage around his head.
At the scene of the blaze on Tuesday morning, exhausted-looking firefighters sat on a kerb. Oleksandr, wetting his face from a water bottle on a bench, said his team had worked all night picking through the rubble.
“We pulled out five bodies. We didn’t find anybody alive,” he said.
Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) major democracies, at a summit in Germany, said the attack was “abominable”.
“Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account,” they said in a joint statement.
BATTLE FOR LYSYCHANSK
Russia denies intentionally targetting civilians in its “special military operation” which has destroyed cities, killed thousands of people and driven millions from their homes.
The U.N. Security Council, where Moscow wields a veto, will meet on Tuesday at Ukraine’s request following the attack. U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the missile strike was deplorable.
Elsewhere on the battlefield, Ukraine endured another difficult day following the loss of the now-ruined city of Sievierodonetsk.
Russian artillery pounded Lysychansk, Sievierodonetsk’s twin city across the Siverskyi Donets River. Ukraine said the Russians attempted to storm it.
Lysychansk is the last big city held by Ukraine in eastern Luhansk province, a main target for the Kremlin after Russian troops failed to take Kyiv early in the war.
Eight residents including a child were killed and 21 wounded by shelling when they gathered to get drinking water in Lysychansk on Monday, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said.
Ukrainian forces controlled the city but its loss was possible as Russia poured resources into the fight, he added.
“They really want this and a lot of reserves are being thrown just for this…We do not need to lose an army for the sake of one city,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Rodion Miroshnik, the ambassador to Moscow of the separatist Luhansk People’s Republic, said Russian troops and their Luhansk Republic allies were advancing westward into Lysychansk and street battles had erupted around the city stadium.
Fighting was going on in several surrounding villages, and Russian and allied troops had entered the Lysychansk oil refinery where Ukrainian troops were concentrated, Miroshnik said on Telegram.
Russia also shelled the city of Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine on Monday, hitting apartment buildings and a primary school, the regional governor said.
The shelling killed five people and wounded 22. There were children among the wounded, the governor said.
During their summit in Germany, G7 leaders vowed to stand with Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and tighten the squeeze on Russia’s finances with new sanctions that include a proposal to cap the price of Russian oil.
Russia expands U.S. sanctions list to include Biden’s wife and daughter
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden disembark from Marine One as they return from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 5, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Tuesday expanded its U.S. ‘stop-list’, including in it the wife and daughter of President Joe Biden as well as other prominent figures.
The step was taken “as a response to the ever-expanding U.S. sanctions against Russian political and public figures,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
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