Aligning with Trump strategists could be a stomach-churner for Gillespie, whose résumé reads establishment Republican: counselor to President George W. Bush, former Republican National Committee chairman, lobbyist. Gillespie got behind Trump only after he had sewn up the 2016 nomination. Now, Gillespie studiously avoids discussing the president.
Running a campaign in the Trump style could be risky in purple Virginia, the only Southern state Hillary Clinton won and where Trump’s approval rating sat at 36 percent in a Washington Post-Schar School poll in May.
So far, Gillespie has resisted the advice — to the chagrin of activists who say his campaign desperately needs shaking up.