Anti-Trump Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California appears to have fallen hook, line and sinker for the so-called “tiki torch” hoax.
On Friday, NBC 29 reporter Elizabeth Holmes tweeted a photo of a group of men wearing white shirts and carrying tiki torches while standing outside Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s campaign bus.
According to Holmes, the men said something along the lines of, “We’re all in for Glenn.”
These men approached @GlennYoungkin’s bus as it pulled up saying what sounded like, “We’re all in for Glenn.” Here they are standing in front of the bus as his campaign event at Guadalajara started.@NBC29 pic.twitter.com/l681ejyBjc
— Elizabeth Holmes (@holmes_reports) October 29, 2021
To those uninterested in digging a bit deeper, the story brought to mind imagery of tiki torch-bearing white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.
Swalwell was among those to take the narrative at face value, tweeting, “Birds of a feather.”
He fell for the Russia hoax, got duped by the Chinese honeypot … Who wants to tell him? pic.twitter.com/JCCR1VqK0Y
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) October 29, 2021
As it turns out, the men in front of the campaign bus were not white supremacists.
They were just trying to make a point.
In a statement, the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, a group founded by former GOP operatives that know spends much of its energy trying to defeat Republican candidates for office, claimed credit for the hoax.
“Glenn Youngkin has said: ‘President Trump represents so much of why I am running.’ Youngkin proves it every day by trying to divide Virginians using racial code words like Critical Race Theory and supporting a ban on teaching the works of America’s only Black Nobel laureate,” The Lincoln Project said.
“The Lincoln Project has run advertisements highlighting the hate unleashed in Charlottesville as well as Glenn Youngkin’s continued failure to denounce Donald Trump’s ‘very fine people on both sides.’ We will continue to draw this contrast in broadcast videos, on our social media platforms, and at Youngkin rallies, the group added.
The Lincoln Project then explained why it carried out the hoax.
“Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” the statement said. “The Youngkin campaign is enraged by our reminder of Charlottesville for one simple reason: Glenn Youngkin wants Virginians to forget that he is Donald Trump’s candidate.
“We will continue to hold Glenn Youngkin accountable. If he will denounce Trump’s assertion that the Charlottesville rioters possessed ‘very fine’ qualities, we’ll withdraw the tiki torches. Until then, we’ll be back.”