Corey Stewart, the Republican nominee for United States Senate in Virginia, was met with laughter during a debate with incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine after saying President Donald Trump “is standing up to the Russians.”
Debate Audience Erupts in Laughter After Republican Corey Stewart Says Trump “is standing up to the Russians.”pic.twitter.com/vSuqxZtsiH
— PoliticsVideoChannel (@politvidchannel) July 22, 2018
Stewart and Kaine sparred on Saturday at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.
“We need a United States senator who will stand with President Trump,” Steward told the audience.
Stewart minimized the security risk posed to the United States by Trump’s cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin, saying the Russians “have been spying for years.”
Stewart added: “We have a president who is standing up to the Russians.” The audience and Kaine then erupted in laughter.
Kaine, who is seeking his second term after losing the 2016 presidential election as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, fired back at Stewart, urging Virginians to elect a Senator willing to stand up to Trump.
“President Trump is caving to the Russians,” Kaine said. “He believed Vladimir Putin even over the hardworking and patriotic Americans who have concluded that Russia is attacking our election.”
Stewart is a former international trade attorney and was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign. He famously said in 2016: “I was Trump before Trump was Trump.”
He has been a controversial candidate due to his ties to neo-confederate and white supremacy groups. In 2017, Stewart said Virginia is the state of “Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson” and that the Confederate flag “is our heritage, it’s what makes us Virginia, and if you take that away, we lose our identity.”
Stewart added that efforts to remove Confederate statues and monuments equate to terror attacks launched by ISIS. He also threatened to cut funding from Virginia cities, should they support measures to take down Confederate memorials.
Politicians who are for destroying the statues, monuments and other artifacts of history are just like ISIS. pic.twitter.com/qoGYGe1l5S
— Corey Stewart (@CoreyStewartVA) April 25, 2017
Stewart won the Republican nomination in June and was swiftly congratulated by Trump via Twitter. Trump referred to Kaine as a “stiff” who is “weak on crime and borders.”
Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia. Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
As of the end of June, Kaine held an 18-point edge over Stewart, leading him 54-36 percent, according to Quinnipiac University poll.