Ohio GOP Senate race: Voters weigh Trump’s support for Vance over 2016 comments critical of former president

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CINCINNATI, Ohio — The outcome of Ohio’s Republican Senate primary on Tuesday could hinge on whether supporters of former President Donald Trump believe GOP nominee JD Vance has honestly changed his mind. about Trump after heavily criticizing him in 2016.

Trump himself thinks so. The former president endorsed Vance, a former venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” last month.

“Like others, JD Vance may have said not-so-good things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I’ve seen it in spades,” Trump said. “He is our best chance of victory in what could be a very tough race.”

Ohio GOP Senate candidate JD Vance speaks at a rally in Newark, Ohio.
(FoxNews)

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But Ohio GOP voters, who have a menu of five leading Republican candidates for their Senate primary — four of whom have fought hard for Trump’s support — are divided on whether they believe in the change. Vance’s review.

“Vance, I just don’t like the way he was a Judas,” undecided voter Claudia Jewett told Fox News at a rally for former state treasurer Josh Mandel, another candidate. from the GOP who asked for Trump’s support.

“I think it was a mistake,” Mandel supporter Bob Eggers said at the same rally. “But you know what, no one is perfect. I will still vote for Trump.”

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But Vance supporter Julie Goletz said at a Saturday rally for Vance that meeting him in person convinced her to follow Trump’s pick in the primary.

Senate candidate JD Vance, left, greets former President Donald Trump during a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio, to endorse Republican candidates ahead of the U.S. primary Ohio on May 3.
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Senate candidate JD Vance, left, greets former President Donald Trump during a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio, to endorse Republican candidates ahead of the U.S. primary Ohio on May 3.
(AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)

“You hear the other guy’s campaign saying he doesn’t like Trump,” she said. “It’s good to hear he said, ‘Well, that used to be true, but it’s not true anymore. “”

“He admitted to saying some of the things that were said on TV,” said Vickie Boychan, a Vance supporter. “He… admitted it and was sorry about it.” It was enough.

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“I needed to hear his thinking, his thinking, to know why he changed,” said Vance supporter Patty Parker. “But he saw the man, President Trump, and could be, what he stood for and how much he did for our country.”

Vance on the campaign trail is forward on his past comments about Trump. He acknowledges them and says he has truly reconsidered his position.

The candidate also boasts endorsements not only from Trump himself, but also from Donald Trump Jr., Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and others.

Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., at a rally for Ohio GOP Senate candidate JD Vance in Newark, Ohio.

Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., at a rally for Ohio GOP Senate candidate JD Vance in Newark, Ohio.
(FoxNews)

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“I just think you have to tell the truth. Right? A lot of people are changing their minds about Donald Trump, and I’m one of them,” Vance told Fox News on Saturday. “A lot of our constituents don’t care as long as you’re just being honest with them.”

But some voters still suspect that Vance is simply behaving like another politician.

“I was a little confused because I mean I saw everything JD Vance said about him,” Shelley Pryka, who is undecided, told Fox News at an Ottawa County Republican event. Women’s Club in Port Clinton. “He said, well, he changed his mind and liked what Trump did. And that’s fine. But sometimes I’m afraid they’ll say that to get you to vote for them.”

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“To be completely honest, I was really bummed because JD Vance never promoted Trump, so I don’t know what happened there,” said Sis Bush, a Mike Gibbons supporter, at the same event. “I was very disappointed in Trump, and I’m a Trumpster, okay. But then, he’s not always right either, is he?”

In addition to Mandel and Gibbons, Vance is competing against former Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken and State Senator Matt Dolan to qualify for the November ballot.

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The winner of the GOP primary will likely face Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, the Democratic frontrunner, in November.

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