Author J.D. Vance’s bid for the hotly contested Republican US Senate seat in Ohio got a boost Friday when he was endorsed by his former adversary Donald Trump.
The endorsement in the GOP primary race came after Vance, 37, walked back previous criticisms of Trump in a charm offensive meant to secure his backing in the race — which is expected to largely be decided by supporters of the ex-president.
Trump gave the coveted nod to Vance over rivals Josh Mandel, Mike Gibbons and Jane Timken, calling him “the candidate most qualified and ready to win in November,” in a statement.
“It is all about winning!” he added.
During the 2016 campaign the venture capitalist and “Hillbilly Elegy” author called Trump “noxious,” “reprehensible” and an “idiot,” before stating last summer he was a “good president” as he threw his hat into the ring.
Since the about-face, Vance has cozied up to Trump allies and parroted many of his positions on trade and immigration during frequent appearances on Steve Bannon’s podcast and Fox News.
Trump alluded to the former Marine’s past insults while bestowing his seal of approval.
Vance “may have said some not-so-great things about me in the past,” but “gets it now, and I have seen that in spades,” Trump said.
Trump also gave a shoutout to Vance’s rivals, who had made frequent trips to his Palm Beach compound, parroted his lies about election fraud and spent millions to hire former aids and align themselves with him.
“This is not an easy endorsement for me to make because I like and respect some of the other candidates in the race — they’ve said great things about ‘Trump.’”
Most of Vance’s slighted rivals brushed off the endorsement and continued to champion Trump’s virtues, as fellow Republican candidate Matt Dolan accused them of having “embraced lies and undermined the Constitution to go all-in for one endorsement.”
“They cheapened their candidacies and the integrity of the office they wish to attain with campaigns that are now in chaos as ballots are being cast,” the state senator said.
The winner of the primary would face Democratic Sen. Tim Ryan in November.
Mandel maintained an average polling lead of 1.7 points ahead of Vance Friday, according to RealClearPolitics.
Trump’s announcement came a week after he played kingmaker in the Pennsylvania US Senate race, throwing his support behind Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz.
With AP wires