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Trump was on the ballot in Virginia. He lost.

Dana Milbank on

In Virginia, there was a pure test of this. Its 3.7 percent unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country, and a large majority of Virginians say the local economy is good. And Gillespie is the very epitome of the Washington swamp: party boss, K Street lobbyist, Capitol Hill and White House staffer. He was even once a Senate parking-lot attendant.

What was left to Gillespie, then, were mostly the cultural issues -- and Trump voters embraced him anyway. Among the 40 percent in exit polls who approved of Trump's job performance, fully 91 percent voted for Gillespie. There weren't enough Trump voters for Gillespie to win, but there were a lot -- and there will be enough to allow some Republicans who run similar campaigns to win elsewhere next year.

Gillespie may have been doomed even if he remained the mainstream Republican candidate he was when he barely survived the primary against a Trump-inspired gadfly, when he properly denounced white supremacists in August, or when he set out to run a campaign about the economy and taxes. We'll never know.

But we do know that Trump was 180 degrees off when he sent this defensive tweet Tuesday night after Gillespie lost: "Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for."

No, Mr. President. The problem was precisely Gillespie's embrace of you.

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Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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