Youngkin tweeted photos of his appearance with Schmidt at a barbecue restaurant in Shawnee, outside Kansas City. Youngkin presented Schmidt with one of his trademark red vests, emblazoned with Schmidt’s name.
According to a video clip posted by the Kansas City Star, Youngkin used a NASCAR analogy in discussing the Kansas race.
"Right now this is like an outside curve and here comes Derek Schmidt on the outside ... And guess what happens? We've got to scrape some paint right now, folks. This is what's going to happen. There's going to be a little bit of bumping going on. Whoever works the hardest is going to win."
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Youngkin added: "This headwater that started in Virginia, this red wave, is now cresting through Kansas. It's your time to pick up the surf board. It's your time to do the work. It's your time to elect Derek Schmidt."
The appearance came six days after Youngkin’s office released new model guidelines for how Virginia’s school districts should deal with transgender students. Youngkin’s proposed guidelines — which he has trumpeted in interviews with conservative media outlets — emphasize parents’ rights and remove protections for transgender students that then-Gov. Ralph Northam’s Department of Education put in place.
Among other things, the guidelines specify that student participation in school athletics and activities shall be based on “biological sex.”
The Kansas City Star reports that Schmidt has criticized Kelly, the Kansas governor, for twice vetoing bills to ban transgender athletes from competing in girls’ or women’s sports. Kelly released an ad Wednesday in which she said: “You may have seen my opponent’s attacks, so let me just say it: Of course men should not play girls’ sports. OK, we all agree there.”
Hours before Youngkin arrived in Kansas, Schmidt endorsed the Virginia governor’s parents-rights playbook. He wrote on Twitter: “Governor Youngkin has empowered parents, kept schools open without mandates, made sure kindergartners aren’t exposed to gender identity politics, and protected fairness in women’s sports. All things Laura Kelly failed to do the past four years.”
Schmidt is in a tight race with Kelly in a traditionally conservative state that shocked the national political establishment last month by decisively rejecting a referendum that would have removed abortion protections from the state’s constitution.
Youngkin has campaigned with GOP candidates for governor in a number of states, including Nebraska, Michigan, Maine and Nevada. The governor’s out-of-state travels — which continue Friday with a stop at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin — have increased speculation that he is seriously considering a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
CBS News reports that on Tuesday that Youngkin will headline a rally with Gov. Brian Kemp in Alpharetta, Ga., north of Atlanta.
Youngkin campaigned with Schmidt four days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — another potential GOP presidential hopeful — stumped for Schmidt.
In other education news, Virginia’s Department of Education reported on Thursday that 89% of the state’s schools earned full accreditation for 2022-2023, down just three percentage points from the 92% in 2019-2020.
In a statement Youngkin cast doubt on the figures, saying the state’s “broken accountability system” does not reflect “catastrophic learning loss and growing achievement gaps facing Virginia’s students.”