Author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, who former President Donald Trump has endorsed in Ohio's GOP primary race for the Senate, said Tuesday on Newsmax that the backing is very important, as people still "really love" Trump and see his endorsement as a "mark of approval."
However, the "Hillbilly Elegy" writer said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America" that such endorsements don't mean Trump is looking for someone who just repeats his slogans, but that he "cares about substance" and wants "somebody with a plan to put America first."
"Because we actually had substance, because we actually had ideas, we were able to earn the president's support," said Vance, who on Monday began a statewide ad campaign featuring the much-coveted Trump endorsement. "I think because of it, we're going to win this race … President Trump said that you're 'our best chance for victory' in what could be a very tough race."
The statewide primary election is on May 3, and Wednesday night, Newsmax host Rob Schmitt will host a candidates' town hall in Independence, Ohio, which Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., is expected to attend.
"We were going to do this as a debate, of course, but none of the other candidates wanted to do it," Vance said Tuesday. "I think because they feel like the debates haven't been that good for them, and they've been good for me … but we've done 55 town halls across the state of Ohio in just the last 2½ months, so I don't think you have to prepare for it other than by being your honest self and actually saying, look, this is how I think about the issues. I think people will hopefully come away impressed with what I think I can accomplish in the U.S. Senate for them."
Vance said he's excited about Schmitt being at the event, "because, you know, we do these town halls and sometimes you get 15 people, but with Newsmax there, we're going to have a lot of people. It's going to be a packed house tomorrow night."
Meanwhile, the former president will also be in Ohio for a rally Saturday, Vance noted.
Trump endorsed Vance over several other powerful Republicans vying for the party nomination to replace Republican Rob Portman, including Mike Gibbons, a Cleveland entrepreneur, real estate developer, and investment banker who co-chaired the fundraising for Trump's 2016 Ohio campaign; former Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel; and former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken. State Sen. Matt Dolan, a former state assistant attorney general, did not seek Trump's endorsement.
Some of the other candidates in the race tried to stop the endorsement based on Vance's past anti-Trump stance.
Vance admitted that he "wasn't a big Trump guy" in 2016, as he didn't expect him to deliver on his promises.
"I was very proud to be proven wrong," he said. "I think a lot of conservatives actually saw the president in action and importantly, solving the incredible corruption that came against him. I've never seen a political leader in my life where so many powerful people tried to destroy him and tried to destroy his family."
Since then, Vance said he's become a "great advocate" of what Trump talks about and what he's trying to accomplish.
Vance also calls himself a "conservative outsider," and noted that "we've had some conservative outsiders in the past deliver big on promises."
"I think one of the things our politics needs is somebody with a fresh set of eyes," he said.
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