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Tipsheet

Donald Trump Endorses JD Vance for Closely Watched Senate Seat

AP Photo/Jeff Dean

Well, former President Donald Trump finally did it. As was reported on Thursday was likely to be the case, he endorsed JD Vance to replace Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who is retiring, in a statement calling Vance "the candidate most qualified and ready to win in November."

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The New York Time's Maggie Haberman tweeted on Friday evening that Trump had endorsed Vance, who is the author of "Hillbilly Elegy."

Trump's endorsement comes despite a letter obtained by and reported on by POLITICO, which appeared to be signed by chairs of Republican counties, though at least one, as I reported earlier on Friday, indicated he did not sign the letter. This includes Tony J. Schroeder, the chair of the Putnam County Republicans. 

Those three dozen chairs who signed onto the letter raised concerns about previous anti-Trump statements from Vance during the 2016 presidential election. The letter notably contained no letterhead. 

In his Friday statement endorsing Vance, Trump made reference to how some have had concerns with Vance. "Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not so great things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades. He is our best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race."

Trump also acknowledged how it has been a rather crowded race. "This is not an easy endorsement for me to make because I like and respect some of the other candidates in the race," he noted, though he did not name names. 

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Trump's endorsement does indicate that "I think J.D. is the most likely to take out the weak, but dangerous, Democrat opponent" and that "With J.D. Vance, Ohio gets both brains and brawn."

He also referenced how well he performed in Ohio, winning the now more red state in both in 2016 with 51.7 percent of the vote and in 2020 with 53.3 percent of the vote. "Ohio has been good to me, I won it twice, really BIG, and I have likewise been GREAT for Ohio. Let's keep it going!"

Trump's endorsement ends with a reference to Make America Great Again, calling on his supporters to unite behind Vance. "It is time for the entire MAGA movement, the greatest in the history of our Country, to unite behind J.D.'s campaign because, unlike so many other pretenders and wannabes, he will put America First. In other words, J.D. Vance has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will not let you down. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN," Trump closed with. 

Trump also had issues with other candidates, who include former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel and financier Mike Gibbons. According to a report by Maggie Haberman and Jazmine Ulloa for The New York Times:

According to a Republican familiar with Mr. Trump’s thinking, he was swayed by several factors, one of which was seeing clips of a Republican primary debate in which two of the candidates, Mr. Mandel and Mr. Gibbons, got into a toe-to-toe fight. It ended any chance that Mr. Trump, who credits the 2016 presidential debates for his victory that year, might have endorsed either of them, the Republican said. Mr. Trump was also impressed by Mr. Vance’s performance after watching the last debate.

Mr. Trump has also told allies that he believes the leading Democratic candidate, Representative Tim Ryan, will be difficult to face in the general election and that he thinks Mr. Vance can beat him.

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The May 3 Ohio primary date is fast approaching, with early voting having already started. Vance looks to be struggling in the crowded field according to polling, as reports have indicated. Trump's endorsement, however, could enable him to emerge victorious in the winner takes all primary. 

This closely watched Senate seat, which is included on several lists of races to watch for the upcoming November midterms, is regarded as being one that will favor Republicans. Democrats currently only control the 50-50 Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote. 

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