President Donald Trump is weighing in on Virginia's governor's race.
Trump attacked Democrat Ralph Northam on immigration issues in a tweet late Thursday, accusing Northam of "fighting" on behalf of violent MS-13 gang members. Trump urged Virginians to vote for Republican Ed Gillespie.
Gillespie - a consummate Washington insider - has sought to keep Trump at arm's length throughout the campaign while also trying to rally Trump supporters with hard-edged attacks on Northam over immigration.
Northam responded on Twitter he's been expecting Trump's attack and asked supporters for donations.
"To accuse me of promoting gang violence in Virginia as a pediatrician who has taken care of sick children and their families all of my adult life, and to be a veteran of the United States Army, you know, I think it's just someone who doesn't understand who I am," Northam said in an interview with News4.
Gillespie said in a phone call with reporters he wasn't surprised that a Republican president is endorsing a Republican candidate for governor.
The tweet was retweeted more than 19,000 times.
"I saw it come up on my iPhone and my thought was my ads must be running in D.C.," Gillespie said.
The Republican candidate is pushing hard on the issue of gangs in his ads.
"Ralph Northam. Weak on MS-13. Putting Virginia families at risk," says one ad.
Northam pushed back against that statement on Friday.
"I regret that our president and my opponent have continued to promote this path of just fear mongering that is so divisive. We need to bring Virginians and this country together right now," he said.
Virginia is just one of two states electing governors this year, a swing state contest viewed as a possible referendum on Trump's first year in office.
MS-13 has become a target of Trump in seeking support for a broader immigration crackdown.