The Republican US Senate race in Ohio is heating up. Five GOP candidates hope to replace Republican Rob Portman, who is stepping down this year.
A live TV debate was broadcast state-wide last night. It included the Republican primary contenders.
None of them have yet been officially endorsed by former President Trump. As his nod of approval will likely result in a boost at the polls, most of them are saying whatever they can to court his favor.
This includes candidate JD Vance, the venture capitalist who also became a bestselling author with the publication of his memoir, Hillbilly Elegy.
Vance, 37, has not always been a fan of the former President. In 2016, he said he would not be voting for Donald Trump and posted a string of anti-Trump tweets. This included calling Trump “reprehensible”. These tweets have now been deleted and Vance has completely reversed his position.
Asked about his change of heart last night, Vance said Trump’s performance in the White House had impressed him.
“All of us say stupid things and I happened to say stupid things very publicly,” said Vance. “I’ve been very public about the fact that I voted for the president in 2020, that I was wrong about the president back in 2015 [and] 2016, and that he’s been the greatest president of my lifetime for the very simple reason, there are many, but one very important reason, that he revealed the corruption within Washington DC.”
Vance went on to say his age in 2016 had been a factor.
“One thing I’d point out is that I was just north of 30 years old when I said a lot of those things. A lot has changed in my life. I re-engaged with my faith. I got baptized three years ago. I’ve had three kids since then. You know, a lot’s different. And one of the things that’s different is that I did change my mind about Donald Trump. He was a great President.”
After calling Trump and “idiot,” “noxious,” and “reprehensible” in 2016, JD Vance now says he is the greatest president in his lifetime. pic.twitter.com/iGDBMZWMV9
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) March 21, 2022
Since announcing his political ambitions, Vance has taken an increasingly far-right, America First standpoint on a range of issues.
This included last year suggesting that childless people, such as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (childless at the time), should have fewer votes than people with children. In the same speech, Vance praised Hungary’s far-right, anti-LGBT President Viktor Orbán, for encouraging married couples to have children.
He also mocked Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for highlighting the existence of two-spirit individuals.
I’m sorry but what the hell is two-spirit? Would love if progressives just stopped inventing words. https://t.co/QfxM0GRhQX
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) September 8, 2021
Earlier this year, he criticized President Biden for contemplating conflict with Russia over Ukraine, telling Steve Bannon, “We did not serve in the Marine Corps to go and fight Vladimir Putin because he didn’t believe in transgender rights. Which is what the U.S. State Department is saying is a major problem with Russia.”
Also on last night’s Ohio debate was former state treasurer Josh Mandel. He also said he was hoping for Trump’s endorsement.
“I’m doing everything I can to earn his support,” said Mandel before suggesting Trump critics like Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) should be “eliminated” from the Republican party.
The only candidate who didn’t fall over himself to praise Trump was local Senator Matt Dolan. When all five were asked to raise their hand if they believed the Republican party should move on from the 2020 election, Dolan was the only one to do so.
The primary is due to take place on May 3. According to a survey conducted by The Hill last week, Businessman Mike Gibbons is the current frontrunner, polling around 22%, followed by Mandel on 15%, and then Vance on 8%. Dolan and former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken both polled around 6%.