Frontrunner Vance in Boardman calls GOP opponents ‘clowns’

JD Vance, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks to a large crowd at the Mahoning County Republican Party HeadquartersWednesday evening Staff photo/ R. Michael Semple

BOARDMAN — J.D. Vance, endorsed by Donald Trump, criticized the other Republicans in the U.S. Senate race for trying to act like the former president.

“You never try to be someone else,” Vance said at a Thursday event at Mahoning County Republican Party headquarters. “You’ve got to be yourself. I think that’s one of the mistakes, by the way, that a lot of these clowns make against me in the primary. They haven’t learned anything from the substance (of) how Trump governed. They try to act like Trump, but you’re not Trump.”

Vance didn’t mention any of his Republican challengers by name, but he most likely was referring to former Treasurer Josh Mandel and investment banker Mike Gibbons, who were both angling for Trump’s endorsement before he gave it to Vance two weeks ago. Vance criticized “Mandel and his allies” for declaring “war” on Trump through television commercials.

A number of people at Thursday’s event told Vance they were surprised that Trump endorsed him, but if the former president was backing him then they were too.

Trump passed over Mandel, Gibbons and former Ohio Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken to endorse Vance. That has pushed Vance from the middle of the pack to the frontrunner in Tuesday’s primary, according to new polling data.

Vance took a shot at Timken, who was at Republican headquarters last week, saying she “didn’t have the same crowd (size) — not to rub it in.”

During the 2016 election, Vance, an author and venture capitalist, was a vocal critic of Trump and didn’t vote for him that year.

Vance has since changed his opinions of Trump after his four years as president.

“The thing I hate about politics is people refuse to admit they change their mind,” he said. “They refuse to admit they were wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong about Donald Trump.”

Trump’s policies on taxes, China and against abortion were some of the reasons, Vance said.

“All of these things pale in comparison in my view to the fact that I’ve never seen a guy that so many power people in this country tried to destroy,” he said. “I’ve never seen someone reveal the corruption in our country like Trump did.”

Vance agreed with the comment that the 2020 election that saw Trump lose to Democrat Joe Biden was “stolen.” He mentioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave $420 million to an organization that helped rig the election, that election laws were broken in Pennsylvania and there was “ballot harvesting” in Georgia.

There is no evidence of massive fraud in that election that would have changed the outcome and Trump and his allies have lost more than 60 court challenges to the results.

“There was no way they were going to let this guy serve another four years,” Vance said of Trump.

Vance said the country has a “record number of (drug) overdoses not because of anything other than Joe Biden has let our country become a war zone and profit center for the Mexican drug cartel.”

During his talk Thursday, Vance criticized Democrats and Republicans for helping China’s economy at the expense of the American working class.

He has also criticized Mandel and Gibbons for old comments about China.

In his 2016 book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” Vance wrote: “We talk about the value of hard work, but tell ourselves that the reason we’re not working is some perceived unfairness: (Barack) Obama shut down the coal mines or all the jobs went to the Chinese. These are the lies we tell ourselves to solve the cognitive dissonance.”

Asked about that Thursday, Vance said: “On the one hand, we have to have personal responsibility, whatever the circumstances are in our life. I say that in the very same book that yes, there are a lot of unfairnesses that have happened. We’ve got to play the cards that are dealt so we’ve got to have an ethic of personal responsibility as individuals. On the other hand, saying, look as policymakers, it was really stupid to ship those jobs to China. So you have to have two thoughts in your head at the same time. You can believe in personal responsibility and also believe that our leaders really screwed up.”



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