President Trump tweeted in support of Ed Gillespie early Tuesday—but he didn't take long to distance himself from the Republican candidate after he lost the Virginia governor's race. Gillespie "worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for," Trump tweeted after Gillespie lost to Democrat Ralph Northam. "Don't forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!" Politico reports that late in the race, Trump recorded a robo-call for Gillespie, praising his stance on immigration and crime and saying: "With your help, Ed Gillespie will help make America great again, a phrase that I like a lot. Vote Ed Gillespie."
Gillespie declined to campaign with Trump during the closely watched race, but in what the Washington Post calls a "bad omen" for the national GOP, he lost despite embracing Trump's tactics and his rhetoric on issues including Central American gangs and NFL protests. Before the loss, Steve Bannon supported the strategy, calling it "Trumpism without Trump." GOP strategists close to the White House now say Gillespie should have embraced Trump more fully, inspiring the president's supporters to turn out to vote. "It should serve as a wake-up call for any Republicans who are pretending there's not a political problem going into next year," Mike Duhaime, Chris Christie’s former top strategist, tells Politico. (Trump deleted pro-Sen. Luther Strange tweets after the Republican's Alabama primary loss.)