After getting the coveted endorsement from former President Donald Trump in the Ohio Senate GOP primary, J.D. Vance — a former critic — declared that he is ready to stand before voters and answer to them.
"I've been very open about this fact that I was not a Donald Trump guy in 2016," Vance told host Rob Schmitt in an exclusive Newsmax town hall Wednesday night at Ohio Wesleyan University's Chappelear Drama Center in Delaware, Ohio.
"The tape is there, and I think I owe it to the voters to just be honest: I was not a Trump guy."
Two things changed Vance's mind, he told Schmitt.
"One is the president was the first person I've ever watched in a presidential office actually deliver on his promises," Vance said. "He said he was going to be the pro-life president.
"He actually delivered on tax policy, on China policy — all these things where I thought this guy is really doing great things, but also I think Trump revealed a corruption in our country that without his presidency, we would have never seen."
Vance said he would have never imagined a U.S. president would be spied on the way Trump was.
"I would have said, 'no, that's crazy; that wouldn't happen now,'" he said. "We know it actually did happen. Even The New York Times admits that the FBI got an illegal wiretap on Donald Trump.
''That corruption and the fact that so many powerful people tried to destroy the president made me realize: 'You know, there's something about this guy that's very important, that's very meaningful, and there's something about the movement that he's the head of that can accomplish great things for this country."
Trump's endorsement of Vance before the May 3 Ohio Senate primary concerned Republicans, including staunch supporters still in the race.
"I'm proud to have the [former] president's support," Vance continued. "One of the things he told me is that very often it wasn't the people who were on board from the beginning, it's the converts who are actually the best defenders of his agenda.
"So, I'm proud to have his trust and certainly proud to have his endorsement."
Vance took a straightforward approach to the exclusive town hall, which Vance's Senate GOP primary opponents declined to attend.
"I don't do talking points, and I don't do slogans," Vance began with Schmitt. "It's clear when you watch some of these other campaigns, a consultant wrote a script and they're reading off of it, actually.
"Like literally sometimes at these debates, I will see them, whip out a script and then go and read and deliver their lines when they actually get asked the question. I don't do that.
"I think it's disrespectful to voters, right? You should respect people's intelligence enough to actually answer the question and actually have your values come through a little bit when you're trying to explain how you would approach an issue like whatever it is — whether it's inflation or Big Tech and whatever, whatever is happening.
"And I also just think that the existence of this — what is now turned into a town hall. Every other candidate was invited here. This was supposed to be a debate."
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Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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