“This is not an easy endorsement for me to make because like and respect some of the other candidates in the race — they’ve said great things about ‘Trump,” the former president wrote, adding that Vance has “both brains and braun.”
President Donald J. Trump announces his endorsement of J.D. Vance pic.twitter.com/KVLpipj1bg
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) April 15, 2022
Ohio’s Republican primary for Senate has been a clown car, even by the GOP’s standards, and Vance and Josh Mandel, in particular, have been jockeying for control of the wheel for months. Trump’s endorsement will surely buoy Vance’s candidacy, but he still has some work to do. A Fox News poll released last month placed him in third, with his support coming in at just 11 percent. Mike Gibbons (22 percent) and Josh Mandel (20 percent) were ahead of him.
“I continue to be a proud supporter of President Trump and the America First agenda,” Mandel responded on Twitter. “I look forward to earning his endorsement in the general election and working with him to defeat Tim Ryan in November.”
Trump’s decision on Friday to throw his weight behind Vance is not surprising given that Vance has been pushing Trumpism for months, most notably in taking a hard line on immigration. NBC News also reported on Thursday that the former president was gearing up to endorse him.
The endorsement is surprising, however, in that Vance was one of Trump’s fiercest critics ahead of the 2016 election. He called him an “idiot.” He called him “noxious.” He called him “reprehensible.” He wrote a piece for The Atlantic comparing Trumpism to opioid addiction. “Trump is cultural heroin,” he wrote. “He makes some feel better for a bit. But he cannot fix what ails them, and one day they’ll realize it.” CNN reported earlier on Friday that Vance also on multiple occasion cited racism as the reason Trump was able to garner so much support ahead of the 2016 election.
Vance has done yeoman’s work trying to walk back his comments now that he’s running for office as a Republican in Ohio. “All of us say stupid things,” he explained during a debate last month, “and I happen to say stupid things very publicly.” He also touted Trump as the “greatest president of my lifetime.”
It looks like that work has paid off. “Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not so great things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades,” Trump wrote in endorsing him on Friday.
Ohio’s Republican primary for Senate takes place on May 3.
This story is developing.