MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Former President Donald Trump endorsed Middletown-born J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist and author of the memoir "Hillbilly Elegy," in Ohio's Republican Senate primary.
The announcement comes after dozens of Republican leaders in Ohio mounted a last-minute effort to urge Trump to remain neutral in the race. In a draft letter obtained by The Associated Press, Republicans noted Vance has come under scrutiny from some of Trump's most loyal supporters for his previous criticism of the former president.
In his endorsement, Trump noted that Vance had criticized him in the past, but said "he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades."
"This is not an easy endorsement for me to make because I like and respect some of the other candidates in the race—they’ve said great things about 'Trump' and, like me, they love Ohio and love our Country," Trump said. "I’ve studied this race closely and I think J.D. is the most likely to take out the weak, but dangerous, Democrat opponent."
The 'dangerous' Democrat opponent Trump is referring to is likely Tim Ryan, a member of the U.S. House. A spokesperson for Ryan's campaign called Vance a "multi-millionaire elitist who left Ohio behind for Silicon Valley."
"If Donald Trump's anointment and Big Tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s millions are enough to drag Silicon Valley Vance out of the primary he's currently losing, we welcome this matchup," the statement said.
Trump's endorsement comes a week before he headlines a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds April 23. He has already announced his support for U.S. House candidate Max Miller, but has yet to take a side in this year's gubernatorial primary.
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