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Trump pulls out of Virginia, announces new leadership team

Decision could affect other Virginia Republicans, History professor says

<p>After the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tapes, the National Sexual Assault Hotline saw a 33 percent increase in online sessions.&nbsp;</p>

After the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tapes, the National Sexual Assault Hotline saw a 33 percent increase in online sessions. 

Republican nominee Donald Trump’s presidential campaign announced last Wednesday that it would pull out of Virginia, focusing its resources in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.

However, NBCWashington reports that, following the announcement of the termination of his Virginia campaign, Trump appointed an entirely new, 18-person leadership team for Virginia.

As of Oct. 16, Hillary Clinton was polling 9 percent above Trump in Virginia, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling averages.

Both announcements follow Trump’s decision to fire Corey Stewart, his former campaign co-chairman in Virginia, after Stewart staged a protest outside the headquarters of the Republican National Committee.

History Prof. George Gilliam said if Trump has withdrawn from the state, those in charge of Trump’s campaign felt that leaving Virginia was in their best interests nationally.

“My guess is that they decided that the state was beyond their reach and they needed to concentrate whatever resources they have in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania,” Gilliam said.

Gilliam said he could not think of any precedent of a candidate withdrawing resources so late in a campaign.

“Usually, you know, there’s a realistic assessment made very, very early in the campaign,” Gilliam said. “[The campaign decides], ‘What are the states that we have a good chance of winning, and which are the states that, you know, it would be a miracle if we won?’”

Trump’s possible departure from the state has not affected the campaign efforts of student groups on Grounds, Republican and Democrat alike.

Sabrina Kim, a second-year College student and student ambassador for the Virginia chapter of Students for Trump, said the announcement of Trump’s withdrawal from the state does not change her commitment as ambassador — a position she said she maintains under the College Republicans — or her commitment as a voter.

University Democrats President Sam Tobin, a fourth-year College student, said while the announcement reflected a potential weakness in the Trump campaign, his organization would remain adamant in its efforts to get as many people to vote as possible.

“It is a visible sign that Trump is getting on the defensive, in the state and nationally,” he said. “We must have an excellent turnout operation, and we need to do that, and we plan on doing that regardless of what Trump’s doing here or not.”

One possible repercussion of Trump’s initial announcement of withdrawal, Gilliam said, was a loss of faith in the campaign by voters observing the concession of Virginia.

“It sends a signal to other states that they’ve given up on Virginia, and maybe they think their chances of winning nationally are not as good as they hope to be,” he said.

In terms of the Virginia electorate as a whole, Kim said she does not believe the announcement will affect any already-decided voters, even those who are more reticent in their support of Trump.

“In my opinion, this didn't have a huge effect — if any — on Trump's core base, who have made up their minds long ago and will likely not shift away from him,” Kim said.

Beyond the 2016 presidential election, Gilliam said pulling Trump’s campaign out of Virginia could very well affect the success of Republican candidates in future local elections, such as the 2017 election for governor.

“Usually, even in a state where your chances of winning the presidential election are not great, you make some effort,” he said. “That helps the Republican party — or the Democratic party, as the case may be — to provide some organization, to get people in place, to see how well they perform so people sort of learn what they have to do in a political campaign.”

The Trump campaign and Stewart did not respond to a request for comment by press time.