On October 27, a cold chill ran through the red-hot Virginia gubernatorial race when this statement was released:
Many Democrats jumped to the conclusion that Trump was going to come crashing into the race with a personal appearance at the last minute, which would be a heaven-sent reinforcement of Terry McAuliffe’s efforts to make Glenn Younkgin out to be a puppet, or at least a replica, of Trump. Republicans were quieter for obvious reasons, but some probably saw this as Trump making everything about himself, just as he did right before the January 2021 Senate runoffs in Georgia, which did not turn out well for the GOP.
Turns out Trump was kidding, or trolling, or just indulging his bottomless appetite for attention. Politico reported: “Within a few hours, there was some clarity. Trump wasn’t actually planning to stop in the commonwealth, at least not imminently, according to aides.”
He is instead doing what’s being called a “tele-rally” on the eve of the election, which basically just means a phone call to supporters. It will happen too late for Terry McAuliffe’s campaign to make much of it.
The truth is, Trump can afford to mess with our heads on this election, because either way it goes, he’s already worked out how to spin it. As his communications director Budowich indicates in the tweet above, if Youngkin wins, Trump will totally take credit on grounds that he (a) endorsed the winner at a time when he was trailing McAuliffe in the polls, and (b) got MAGA folks and Republicans generally psyched out of their skulls with his Big Lie crusade to treat the 2020 election as illegitimate, with the result that they snake-danced to the polls with his holy name on their lips. It may or may not be a totally made-up assertion, but it’s not easy to refute, either.
If Youngkin falls short, on the other hand, it’s very clear what Trump and his underlings will say: This is what happens when Trump isn’t on the ballot and Republicans don’t involve him in their campaigns, either. The cure for their problem, of course, is a Trump-dominated midterm election in 2022, followed by a Trump comeback in 2024, when he can be on the ballot again, working his evil magic. Once again, after the midterms, Trump can spin the results either way: a big win is attributable to the boss, and a disappointing outcome just shows he’s got to be on the ballot his own self to get the folks to the polls.
The best part of this perfect circle of lies and self-delusion is that even if he runs again and loses again in 2024, he won’t admit it. It will be another rigged election, perhaps followed by a better-planned and -executed postelection coup.
The 45th president really can’t lose, in Virginia or anywhere else. Every victory is his, and no defeat can possibly be his fault. Such are the benefits of unassailable narcissism, and a reality entirely disconnected from facts.