- Author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance discussed his deleted anti-Trump tweets on Fox News on Monday.
- The Ohio Senate seat candidate said he regrets criticizing the former president.
- Vance previously visited Mar-a-Lago to seek Trump’s endorsement in the crowded GOP primary.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The bestselling author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” J.D. Vance, addressed his anti-Trump history on Fox News on Monday, walking back his past criticism of the former president as the race for an open Ohio seat in the US Senate heats up among Republican hopefuls.
Vance announced his candidacy to fill retiring Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s seat last week, mounting a populist-nationalist campaign in the spirit of former President Donald Trump.
But the venture capitalist, who has the support of conservative billionaire Peter Thiel and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, now faces his first major controversy, after CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski last week retrieved several of Vance’s past tweets in which he criticized Trump.
Vance, who recently visited Mar-a-Lago in Florida to make a bid for Trump’s coveted primary endorsement, called the former president “reprehensible” for his treatment toward “Immigrants, Muslims, etc.” in the since-deleted tweets from 2016. He also said he would be voting not for Trump, but for independent Evan McMullin.
-andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) July 1, 2021
On Monday, Vance addressed the tweets for the first time, telling Fox News’ Alicia Acuna that he regrets his former stance.
“Like a lot of people, I criticized Trump back in 2016,” he said. “And I ask folks not to judge me based on what I said in 2016, because I’ve been very open that I did say those critical things and I regret them, and I regret being wrong about the guy.”
“I think he was a good president,” Vance added. “I think he made a lot of good decisions for people, and I think he took a lot of flak.”
Vance, who once told Daily Best columnist Matt Lewis that Trump gave the white working class “an excuse to not look inward [and] to not ask tough questions about themselves and their communities,” has done a public about-face in regards to his feelings on the divisive former president since he first started exploring a run for Senate.
Vance said on Monday that he has faced criticism for standing up for Trump voters and their beliefs.
“I think that’s the most important thing, is not what you said five years ago, but whether you’re willing to stand up and take the heat and take the hits for actually defending the interests of the American people,” Vance said.
Vance’s opponents are already using the unveiled tweets as ammunition – a development he told Fox News he was anticipating.
Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who is also running for Portman’s Senate seat in 2022, tweeted on Thursday that he and Vance have “exactly one thing in common – neither of us voted for Donald Trump.”
Several Republicans and Democrats have already entered the Senate primary and the race is shaping up to be one of the most watched in the election cycle.