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FIRST ON FOX: In a Republican Party still largely dominated by Donald Trump, the candidates who win the former president’s endorsement almost immediately highlight him.
And that’s exactly what JD Vance is doing in Ohio’s crowded, contentious, and costly GOP Senate nomination race, with only 15 days until primary day in Buckeye State.
Vance, the venture capitalist and best-selling author who is a leading contender in the battle to succeed retired GOP Sen. Rob Portman, will launch a new publicity blitz in Ohio on Monday to ensure voters Republicans know he is now backed by Trump, who 15 months away from the White House remains the GOP’s most popular and influential politician.
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The ad, which was first shared with Fox News on Monday, touts Trump’s endorsement right off the bat. This is followed by the narrator pointing out that “JD is the conservative outsider who will continue Trump’s fight to secure our borders, protect unborn children, get rid of corrupt politicians, and stop Joe Biden.”
“JD Vance – Marine, author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ America First conservative endorsed by President Trump,” the narrator points out.
The spot ends with Vance telling the camera, “Trump fought back, and so did I. Now I’m going to take our fight to the US Senate.”
Vance’s campaign tells Fox News they’re spending half a million dollars to run the ad statewide on broadcast and cable TV, and that the spot is part of a new buyout. seven-figure announcements for the last two weeks of the primary campaign.
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Trump endorsed Vance on Friday afternoon, saying in a statement that “in the great state of Ohio, the most qualified and winning candidate is JD Vance. We can’t play games. This is to win!”
“It’s not an easy endorsement for me because I love and respect some of the other candidates in the race – they’ve said good things about ‘Trump’ and, like me, they love Ohio and they love our country,” the former president added. But he said Vance was the candidate best equipped to defeat longtime Rep. Tim Ryan, who is likely to win the Democratic Senate nomination.
Vance will team up with Trump in person in five days, as the former president hosts a rally in Ohio at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on Saturday, April 23.
Vance was one of four leading candidates who lobbied for the former president’s endorsement. The others were 2018 Republican Senate nominee Mike Gibbons, a Cleveland entrepreneur, real estate developer, and investment banker; former Ohio Treasurer and former two-time Senate candidate Josh Mandel; and former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken. Another major candidate, State Sen. Matt Dolan, a former chief assistant county attorney and assistant state attorney general, was not seeking Trump’s support.
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For months, leading candidates other than Dolan have tried to outdo each other to show their support and loyalty to Trump. And the battle for the nomination has turned increasingly negative, with candidates and outside groups supporting them attacking each other. Things got so heated that Gibbons and Mandel nearly came to blows in a recent debate.