RICHMOND — Corey Stewart, a Republican running for Virginia governor in the style of Donald Trump, made this offer to some of the president’s most ardent fans: “Ask me anything.”
And for the next hour on a Reddit comment board Thursday, he responded to whatever came his way.
“What car do you drive daily?” he was asked. “Pickup truck!” he replied. Asked if he supported mass deportation of illegal immigrants, he said: “YES. I will kick them all out.”
He remained game and breezy as the queries veered into territory like this: “Is Bill Clinton a rapist?” “Yes,” Stewart replied.
“Can you confirm that [Virginia Gov.] Terry McAuliffe is a cuck?” someone wrote. “CONFIRMED!” Stewart wrote back.
Stewart, who prides himself on his brash, politically incorrect persona, introduced “cuck” — a slur derived from “cuckold” and popularized by the far right — into the discussion from the start.
“Hey Reddit, I’m Corey Stewart. Republican Candidate for Governor of Virginia and former State Chair for Donald Trump for President,” he began. “The primary election is June 13th. I am opposing the establishment’s handpicked candidate, former Bush guy, RNC chairman, and cuckservative, Ed Gillespie.”
Stewart’s Reddit outing drew a rebuke Friday from the state’s GOP chairman, John Whitbeck, who called some of Stewart’s language “racist.”
In a written message to The Washington Post, Whitbeck said the term was “not acceptable in political discourse under any circumstances...No Republican should ever use this type of language in a campaign.”
Whitbeck noted that the term is “used by white nationalists.”
Gillespie spokesman Matthew Moran said: ”This is just sad. It’s certainly no way to build a party, no way to win elections, and no way to advance conservative principles.”
Stewart said he unaware of any racial overtones to the term “cuck,” but he also questioned Whitbeck’s authority to declare a word unacceptable for political discourse.
“What is he, the word pope?” Stewart said. “Who is he to say that? That’s just ridiculous.”
At the same time, Stewart welcomed the attention. Trailing Gillespie in money and endorsements, Stewart has relied on controversy to fuel to his underdog bid in the June 13 primary. He also faces state Sen. Frank Wagner (Virginia Beach). Stewart is chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and was chairman of Trump’s Virginia campaign until late last year, when he was ousted for participating in an unauthorized protest against the Republican National Committee.
In another attention-grabbing move this week, Stewart declared at an appearance in Roanoke that “the most important thing in this campaign” is the preservation of Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee statue, which the City Council wants removed. He then encouraged a woman in the crowd to unfurl a Confederate battle flag.
“Folks, this is a symbol of heritage,” he said at the Roanoke gathering. “It is not a symbol of racism. It is not a symbol of slavery. I’m proud to be here with this flag.”
In an interview Friday, Stewart said, “I don’t fly the Confederate flag on my property, but I’m not going to try to belittle or embarrass anybody who wants to do that. … I think these cultural issues are very important. I really do. I just think political correctness is a limitation on our First Amendment freedoms.”
Stewart’s use of term “cuckservative” were seen by some as another bid for outrage and attention. Stewart said he thought they were just slightly hipper terms for RINO, an insult for establishment Republicans that stands for Republican In Name Only.
Stewart has been attacking Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who worked as a counselor to President George W. Bush, as “Establishment Ed.”
He said he’d never heard the words until a few weeks ago, when he started making arrangements to do the Reddit forum.
“When I first started talking to Reddit, they dropped the word ‘cuckservative.’ They were asking me to describe Gillespie. I said, ‘He’s a RINO,’” Stewart said. “They said, ‘Is he a cuck?’ . . . I said, ‘Hey, what’s that?’ ‘That’s a fake conservative.’”
Stewart said he adopted the term for the forum because “that’s the lingo of young conservatives who are on Reddit.”
In Washington Post story on political insults sdescribes “cuck” as “an arch-conservative insult that has come to mean, essentially, a girly man.”
Stewart also stood by his comments about former President Clinton. He said he was referring to a former campaign volunteer’s accusation that Clinton raped her in 1978, when he was Arkansas attorney general running for governor. She later denied the accusation, and then recanted the denial. Clinton has denied the allegation, which surfaced 20 years later.
“Yeah, I think he is a rapist, I really do,” he said. “ They asked for my opinion. I’m not a judge in the court of law here.”