Gibbons touts bus tour through 88 Ohio counties in GOP Senate primary as he attacks Vance’s MAGA credentials

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GOP Senate candidate Mike Gibbons said his bus tour of nearly 90 Ohio counties could help him battle undecided primary voters after former President Donald Trump launched a “curve ” in the race supporting his opponent JD Vance

“We’ve had a lot of people come up and say we voted for you, we’re going to vote for you,” Gibbons told Fox News Sunday outside the Ottawa County Republican Women’s Club chicken barbecue in Port Clinton.

“That’s what we felt across the state,” he added. “We have a lot of support and this election is not over.”

Ohio GOP Senate candidate Mike Gibbons speaks with Fox News Digital outside the Ottowa County Republican Women’s Club event in Port Clinton, Ohio. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

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Gibbons stopped by the event in his trademark campaign bus and with former Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken and State Senator Matt Dolan — also GOP Senate primary candidates — mingle with voters over lunch.

Gibbons manned the lemonade station, lining up a row of cups for attendees as they walked through the lunch line at a local Knights of Columbus club.

The candidate said the support he saw in Port Clinton matched what he saw in many other remote parts of Ohio on his bus tour.

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“I actually can’t think of one area where we’re weak,” Gibbons said. “We’ve been all over the state, 88 counties, many counties, we’ve been the only ones hanging out with them…Hopefully it pays off. We’ll see how voters in the Ohio are smart here in a few days.”

Ohio GOP Senate candidate Mike Gibbons exits his campaign bus before an Ottawa County Republican Women's Club event in Port Clinton, Ohio.  (Tyler Olson/Fox News)
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Ohio GOP Senate candidate Mike Gibbons exits his campaign bus before an Ottawa County Republican Women’s Club event in Port Clinton, Ohio. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

The event came on the home stretch of a campaign dominated by four top candidates, including Gibbons, who fought for Trump’s endorsement. Gibbons, an investment banker by trade, seemed like a potential option, especially given his comparison to Trump as a businessman who decided to run for office.

But Vance, himself a former businessman and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” eventually won Trump’s backing. This is despite numerous comments from Vance in 2016 that were highly critical of Trump and his constituents.

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Gibbons called Trump’s decision a mistake.

“I’m a pro-America First candidate. I supported Donald Trump … I don’t think he made a good decision going into this race, especially so late in the game,” Gibbons said Sunday. “He took a guy who was in single digits and made him competitive…and I think a lot of Republicans in the state, conservatives in this state are concerned about that. They don’t want a guy to tell them who to vote for from the west coast… People are upset.

Trump gave critics of his Vance endorsement even more ammunition at a Sunday night rally in Nebraska. The former president stumbled on his words, saying he supported “JP, right? JD Mandel,” in the Ohio race.

Ohio GOP Senate candidate Mike Gibbons serves voters lemonade at an Ottawa County Republican Women's Club event in Port Clinton, Ohio.  (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

Ohio GOP Senate candidate Mike Gibbons serves voters lemonade at an Ottawa County Republican Women’s Club event in Port Clinton, Ohio. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

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Gibbons’ campaign immediately attacked Vance in the moment. “Vance’s momentum, much like his MAGA credentials, are bogus,” he said in a press release.

Vance regularly acknowledges his previous comments about Trump during campaign stops. He tells voters he’s changed his mind about Trump and touts MAGA world regulars like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., as proof that he is now pro-Trump.

“I just think you have to tell the truth. Don’t you? A lot of people have changed their minds about Donald Trump, and I’m one of them,” Vance said on Saturday. “It’s not really about what I said about Trump six years ago.”

Despite the “curvy curve,” Gibbons said, he believed Trump’s endorsement had changed the minds of very few of his supporters.

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Voters head to the polls in Tuesday’s high-profile, expensive and controversial Senate primary, with Vance, Gibbons, Dolan and former state treasurer Josh Mandel all seemingly within reach in many polls. And with a massive number undecided, Timken also argues she can pull off a late win with her sprawling ground game.

The winner of the GOP primary will likely face Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, in November’s general election.

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