Toward the end of a rambling 90-minute speech, Trump introduced Vance as “the man with by far the best chance to beat the Democrats in November. And you know what? He’s a guy that said some bad shit about me.”
The former president glossed over the fact that Vance called Trump “noxious” and an “idiot” before changing his mind by the time he started running for Senate in July. Last week, Vance’s law school roommate released a private message that showed Vance contemplating whether Trump was “America’s Hitler.”
Trump claimed that other candidates he’s endorsed have also said bad things about him, and he’s managed to overlook them.
“You know what? Every one of the others did also. By that standard, I don’t think I would have endorsed anybody in the country,” Trump said.
“I have to do what I have to do. We have to pick someone who can win,” Trump said, citing Vance’s background as a Yale Law School graduate and U.S. Marine.
Vance told an audience earlier this week that Trump was the “greatest president of my lifetime.”
“We’ve got a ridiculous leadership, even on the Republican side, that tries to undo some of the best things that Donald Trump did over the past four years,” Vance said, after Trump called him up on stage.
MAGA diehards flocked to see Vance with the former president at a central Ohio fairgrounds. But people who spoke with HuffPost at the rally didn’t seem to realize that Trump was in Ohio for Vance — even ones wearing Vance campaign stickers.
Trump endorsed Vance, the venture capitalist who wrote “Hillbilly Elegy,” last week in the May 3 primary. Recent polling suggests the race is down to Vance and Josh Mandel, the former Ohio treasurer. Mandel wasn’t at the rally, where other non-Trump-endorsed candidates, like Republican Jim Renacci, who’s trying to beat Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the gubernatorial primary, were attempting to get noticed.
The Republican Senate nominee is expected to face Democrat Tim Ryan in the general election.