“It’s not an easy endorsement for me because I love and respect some of the other candidates in the race – they’ve said great things about ‘Trump’ and, like me, they love Ohio and love our country. “, Trump said in a statement.
“I’ve studied this race closely and I think JD is most likely to take out the weak but dangerous Democratic opponent – dangerous because he’ll have so much money to spend,” Trump added, referring to the expected Democratic candidate, representing Tim Ryan.
Trump’s endorsement is not without risk: Most polls have consistently shown Vance trailing Republican rivals, including Mandel, former state treasurer and investment banker Mike Gibbons. But Vance’s allies argue that the endorsement of Trump – who polls show remains popular with Republican voters in the state – will catapult him into serious controversy.
Trump had spent months pondering his endorsement. At first, he came close to endorsing former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken, but he ditched the idea after she appeared to defend the Republican representative. Antoine González on his support for Trump’s impeachment. Over the months, Trump has met other candidates who have made pilgrimages to Mar-a-Lago, including Mandel, Gibbons and Vance, who was accompanied by his top donor, billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel.
Trump in recent weeks has warmed to the idea of endorsing Vance. The cable news-watching former president told others he thinks Vance is good at television and is in love with his political platform, including fighting big tech companies. Trump also received encouragement from several Vance allies, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, conservative activist Charlie Kirk, Missouri Sen. Josh Haley and Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.
Vance hasn’t always been a Trump supporter. When Trump was running for president in 2016, Vance described himself as a “never Trump guy” and called Trump “idiot” and “offensive.” The Anti-Tax Growth Club, which supports Mandel, ran TV ads reminding voters of Vance’s comments.
But Trump – who phoned Vance on Friday afternoon to inform him of his endorsement – appeared unmoved.
“Like others, JD Vance may have said some not-so-good things about me in the past,” Trump said in his statement, “but he gets it now, and I’ve seen it in spades.”