J.D. Vance, the bestselling author and a Republican Senate hopeful, said on Monday that he regretted his since-deleted Twitter posts that criticized Donald Trump, amid accusations of flip-flopping as he vies for a seat in Ohio.
Vance, the author of the memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” launched his campaign last week. He has come under fire for deleting tweets from 2016 that were unearthed by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski — including one in which he said he was voting for Evan McMullin, and another calling Trump “reprehensible” because of his views toward “Immigrants, Muslims, etc.”
A recent Daily Beast column ran with the headline “Hypocrite’s Elegy: J.D. Vance Is an Avatar of GOP Corruption,“ and Democrat Tim Ryan, who is vying for the Ohio Senate seat, tweeted: “.@JDVance1 and I have exactly one thing in common — neither of us voted for Donald Trump.“
Now, as he runs for office, Vance has shifted toward a pro-Trump position, recently visiting the former president in Florida in hopes of earning his endorsement. He told Fox News on Monday that he hoped people wouldn’t judge him for his past remarks, which he then walked back.
“Like a lot of people, I criticized Trump back in 2016,” Vance said. “And I ask folks not to judge me based on what I said in 2016, because I’ve been very open that I did say those critical things and I regret them, and I regret being wrong about the guy. I think he was a good president, I think he made a lot of good decisions for people, and I think he took a lot of flak.”
Vance added that he himself had been criticized for standing up for the former president’s voters and agenda, saying, “I think that’s the most important thing, is not what you said five years ago, but whether you’re willing to stand up and take the heat and take the hits for actually defending the interests of the American people.”
The GOP candidate went on to say he was sure his primary challengers would use his deleted tweets against him, adding that he thought they had “baggage of their own” related to Trump and other issues.
The Ohio Senate primary is currently overflowing with candidates ahead of Sen. Rob Portman’s retirement in 2022, making Trump’s endorsement all the more enticing for those in the race.