Gillespie’s primary scare has White House, others urging ‘Trump world’ hires

    Alarmed that Ed Gillespie barely won the Virginia GOP primary for governor in June, top Republicans from the White House on down are pushing him to hire some of the president’s strategists and more aggressively court Trump voters, according to Republicans with direct knowledge of those efforts.

    In addition, the Republican National Committee has taken charge of field operations for the Gillespie campaign, according to two Republicans who called it a sign that the national party is worried about Gillespie’s team.

    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.

    The course Gillespie takes will have meaning not only in November but also in 2018, when scores of other Republicans running for state and federal offices in swing districts across the country try to win

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