Opinion | Virginia’s Hung Cao shows the GOP how to stop obsessing about 2020

Jim Geraghty is senior political correspondent for National Review.

Win or lose this November, Hung Cao, the Republican nominee for Congress in Virginia’s 10th Circuit, should be leading a training camp for other GOP candidates.

The question, “Who won the 2020 presidential election?” shouldn’t be a difficult one for elected GOP officials and candidates. Unfortunately, a significant portion of self-proclaimed Republicans still maintain that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected. Whatever Republican candidates may actually believe about the 2020 presidential election, many feel they need these election skeptics to vote in November — so they’re trying to refine their answers to the question, with chilling results.

Even Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a pretty strong favorite in his re-election bid against Democrat Beto O’Rourke, felt it necessary to defend a state scrutiny of the four-county 2020 presidential election results. Remember, it was a test requested by Donald Trump, who officially won the state by more than 630,000 votes.

Cao may be a political novice, but he’s smarter. During his first live debate with incumbent Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton on Oct. 2 at the Dar Al Noor Mosque in Manassas, Cao was asked, “Do you believe that the 2020 election was free, fair and undefiled and Joe Biden is the duly elected President of the United States? And are you confident about the election process this year?”

cao answered clearly, emphatically, and with a small smile: “Sir, Joe Biden is the President of the United States. If you don’t believe me, go to your gas pumps or go to your grocery stores and that will tell you who it is.

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Boom! Perfection. The spectators responded with cheers and applause. Even the most devoted Trump MAGA-hatted fanatic could echo Cao’s response without demanding to know where he stands on the legal theories of Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, or the threats posed by Venezuelan hackers and bamboo in the Arizona ballot.

Cao’s lyrics weren’t just a good zinger; A response like this prompts Republicans to refocus and stop thinking about the 2020 election and Trump’s delusional fantasies of being declared the “rightful winner.” Better think about what to do in the here and now.

Aside from the not-so-minor point that the 2020 presidential election conspiracy theories aren’t true, they’re a waste of time for a 2022 Republican candidate. Every minute spent warming up 2020 is a minute not spent taking action against the economic policies, border policies, crime policies, etc. of President Biden and the Congressional Democrats.

When Republican candidates argue about what should have been done two years ago, they might as well spend time denouncing the invasion of Iraq or the rescue of General Motors or the cancellation of Firefly. What is past is past. Tell us what you will do if you are elected and start work in January.

In a year when Republicans seem to have nominated many candidates who aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, Cao could be the best of them all. He brings an excellent resume – immigrating to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam in 1975, graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County and then the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. Deployed in combat in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, he served alongside Special Forces and SEAL teams and returned from his last deployment in January 2021.

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In the Manassas debate, Cao also displayed a flair for political theatre, keep a Wexton leaflet that labeled him an extremist and countered that the incumbent was promoting xenophobia.

“,Extremist.’ Where have you heard this word before?” he asked the audience in a mosque. “Where have you heard that word before? I fought [for] and served this country. I bled for this country. And I’m called an extremist. I have served every American with honor. I know a lot of people who have served with me have disagreed with my policies, and that’s okay. I served her anyway. I served them as a commanding officer, I served them in battle to save lives. And now I’m being called an “extremist.” Where have you heard that before? That’s how we tear people apart. I deserve to be called an American. I have earned this right. We have all earned this right.”

Cao is not a shoo-in. While the newly drawn county lines are a little kinder to Republicans than before, Wexton has a lot to offer — she’s a veteran prosecutor and former senator, elected to the House of Representatives in the 2018 Democratic Wave and comfortably re-elected in 2020. She will almost certainly outperform Cao.

But win or lose, Cao has given Republicans in Northern Virginia and elsewhere a much better and more competitive model to campaign for — and to get past the jaded and pointless arguments about 2020.

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