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FIRST ON FOX: In a Republican Party still very much dominated by Donald Trump, candidates who land the former president’s endorsement almost immediately showcase it.
And that’s exactly what J.D. Vance is doing in Ohio’s crowded, contentious and expensive GOP Senate nomination race, with just 15 days to go until primary day in the Buckeye State.
Vance, the venture capitalist and bestselling author who’s one of the major contenders in the battle to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman, on Monday will launch a new ad blitz across Ohio to make sure Republican voters know he’s now backed by Trump, who 15 months removed from the White House remains the most popular and influential politician in the GOP.
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The ad, which was shared first with Fox News on Monday, touts Trump’s endorsement right off the top. That’s followed by the narrator emphasizing that “J.D. is the conservative outsider who will continue Trump’s fight to secure our borders, protect the unborn, get rid of the corrupt politicians, and stop Joe Biden.”
“J.D. Vance – Marine, author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ President Trump’s endorsed America First conservative,” the narrator stresses.
The spot ends by Vance saying to the camera, “Trump fought back, and so have I. Now I’ll take our fight to the U.S. 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 seven-figure ad buy for the final 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 candidate most qualified and ready to win is J.D. Vance. We cannot play games. It is all about winning!”
“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 some great things about ‘Trump’ and, like me, they love Ohio and they love our Country,” the former president added. But he said that Vance was the candidate best equipped to defeat longtime Rep. Tim Ryan, who’s likely to win the Democratic Senate nomination.
Vance will team up in person with Trump in five days, as the former president holds a rally in Ohio at the Delaware County fairgrounds on Saturday, April 23.
Vance was one of four major candidates who lobbied hard to land the former president’s endorsement. The others were 2018 Republican Senate candidate 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 county chief assistant prosecutor and state assistant attorney general, was not seeking Trump’s backing.
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The leading candidates other than Dolan for months tried to one up each other in showcasing their support and loyalty to Trump. And the nomination battle turned increasingly negative, with the candidates and outside groups backing them attacking each other. Things turned so heated that Gibbons and Mandel nearly came to blows at a recent debate.