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Glenn Youngkin tries to distance himself from event where supporters pledged allegiance to flag said to be at the Capitol on January 6

Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin is distancing himself from a Wednesday night event in support of him where attendees pledged to a flag that was said to be flown at the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

The flag was flown at the "Take Back Virginia Rally" in Henrico County that was hosted by conservative radio host John Fredericks. At the start of the event, the emcee introduced a woman holding an American flag that she said "was carried at the peaceful rally with Donald J. Trump on January 6." The flag was then used for  the Pledge of Allegiance.

Youngkin, who has tied himself to Mr. Trump's base during the GOP primary by focusing on "election integrity," was not at the event but denounced the alleged flag's use for the pledge on Thursday.

"If that is the case then we shouldn't pledge allegiance to that flag. I've been so clear, there is no place for violence. None, none in America today. We have our right to assemble and protest protected in this great country and this great commonwealth. But there is no room for violence," he said after a rally Thursday.

Virginia Election Rally
Political strategist Steve Bannon gestures during an election rally in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.  Steve Helber / AP

Later Thursday, Youngkin issued a statement saying he had "no role" in the rally, and he called it "weird and wrong" to "pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6." 

Additionally, former President Trump dialed in during the Wednesday night event and voiced his support for Youngkin. Mr. Trump endorsed Youngkin earlier this year and floated the idea of an in-person rally in support of him before Election Day.

"Glenn Youngkin is a great gentleman. We got to get him in," he said. "You have a chance to get one of the most successful business people in the country. I hope Glenn gets in there… I really believe that Virginia is very, very winnable. But people got to get out there and vote."

Key Trump strategist Stephen Bannon also spoke at the event on Wednesday. On Thursday, the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack said it would try to hold Bannon in criminal contempt for not complying with a subpoena.

Virginia state Senator Amanda Chase, who ran in the GOP primary against Youngkin but now has been campaigning for him, at the Wednesday rally also perpetuated the baseless claim of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Youngkin said Thursday that "the only chief surrogate for Glenn Youngkin, is Glenn Youngkin."

Democratic candidate and former governor Terry McAuliffe condemned the flag pledge on Thursday morning, and called on Youngkin to respond.

"They really brought a flag up there and they did the pledge of allegiance to a flag that was used to bring down the democracy that that American flag symbolizes," McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe and his campaign have looked to tie Youngkin closer to Mr. Trump the whole race, and launched an ad showing Mr. Trump's call on Thursday. President Biden won the state by 10 points in 2020, and Trump's presidency is largely cited by Democrats as a reason the state has turned more Democratic in the past five years.

An October CBS News poll shows a very close race in Virginia, with McAuliffe up three points amongst likely voters. Mr. Trump is a motivating factor for 53% of McAuliffe voters and 49% for Youngkin voters. Feelings towards Mr. Biden is fueling 58% of Youngkin voters and 41% of McAuliffe voters, according to the poll.

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