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Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz backed Ohio G.O.P. Senate candidate JD Vance at a rally on Saturday, saying Vance is the right person to fight for conservative values and win the open Ohio Senate seat in November.
“JD Vance held a clinic in the debates, in the primaries,” Gaetz, R-Fla., told Fox News in an interview before the rally. “Donald Trump saw those debates. He saw the way JD was aggressive and assertive, and he had vision and energy. … That’s the kind of leadership we need. That’s the kind of leadership that Marjorie and I seek in Washington, DC”
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Gaetz and Greene, R-Ga., stumped for Vance in front of a rowdy crowd in Newark, Ohio, ahead of Tuesday’s GOP primary election.
They blasted Democrats for allegedly pushing gender identity classes in schools, claimed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was past masks and vaccines, and decried RINO Republicans (Republicans in name only) who they say they regularly give in to Democrats and the “corrupt” political establishment.
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Greene and Gaetz said Vance would be an ally for them in Congress.
“That’s why I supported JD from the start, because I know he’s a businessman, he’s a family man. He cares about the traditional values that Americans desperately want. that Congress cares about,” Greene said.
Gaetz and Greene are two of the most controversial members of Congress, often landing in hot water even with GOP leadership over their public comments. But Vance, who is also backed by former President Donald Trump, praised them and told Fox News their support should show he won’t back down on key issues if elected.
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“These two people here. And I think that sends a signal that I’m not going to stab our constituents in the back,” Vance said.
Vance’s opponents often attack him for being highly critical of Trump in the 2016 election. This has been the subject of attack announcements and letters from activists and GOP officials saying voters can’t trust Vance to be pro-Trump enough.
Several voters who spoke to Fox News on Friday at a rally for former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, one of the four other leading primary candidates, said they were disappointed with the endorsement of Vance by Trump. One called Vance a “Judas”.
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Vance acknowledged the comments about the former president and says he has really changed his mind.
“I just think you have to tell the truth. Don’t you? A lot of people are changing their minds about Donald Trump, and I’m one of them,” Vance said. “A lot of our constituents don’t care as long as you’re just being honest with them.”
Several voters who spoke to Fox News after Vance’s rally on Saturday said they had not yet decided whether they would support the candidate because of his comments about Trump.
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“After I heard him speak, it was pretty good for me,” Vickie Boychan told Fox News. “He admitted to saying some of the things that were said on TV and he… admitted it and was sorry about it and that was enough.”
Vance said, “That’s not really what I said about Trump six years ago.”
“People don’t focus on the past,” he said.
Fox News’ Mark Meredith contributed to this report.