Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of JD Vance’s bid for the GOP nomination for the US Senate in Ohio has left some “original and proud ‘Trumpers'” feeling so betrayed they are calling on him to rescind his support.
Half of the Ohio delegates who represented Mr. Trump at the 2015 Republican National Convention have signed an open letter urging him to withdraw his support for Mr. Vance.
“We would respectfully request you reconsider your endorsement of JD Vance to show your supporters in Ohio and across our great states why we first believed in you back in 2016,” reads the letter, released Wednesday. “That it really was about the We the People, America First and Making America Great Again not supporting a political chameleon and snake oil salesman like JD Vance!”
The Vance campaign dismissed the letter.
“Conservative outsiders like Donald Trump and JD Vance will always be fought by the Republican establishment and party insiders,” said Vance campaign spokesman Taylor Van Kirk. “We look forward to winning them over like President Trump did.”
The letter’s 33 signatories include Rob Scott, former state director of the Trump 2016 campaign, and Ralph King, a longtime tea party activist.
Mr. Trump threw his support behind Mr. Vance last week, ending months of speculation over whether he would stay on the sidelines in a race in which four of the top five candidates had spent months falling over each other to show their fealty to him.
Mr. Trump is set to headline a rally in Delaware, Ohio, this weekend featuring Mr. Vance and other candidates he has endorsed: Rep. Mike Carey, Max Miller and Madison Gesiotto Gilbert.
Asked about the letter, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said the former president is “looking forward to rallying with JD Vance and tens of thousands of MAGA patriots this Saturday in Ohio.”
“JD is the strongest candidate in the race to beat [Democrat] Tim Ryan, and will be a tough, America First fighter in the US Senate, ”Mr. Budowich said.
Donald Trump Jr., meanwhile, is scheduled to headline a town hall-style forum Wednesday with Mr. Vance in the Cleveland suburbs.
Mr. Vance, a venture capitalist and the best-selling author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” was a major critic of Mr. Trump during his rise and early on in his presidency.
Mr. Vance eventually changed his view, saying on numerous occasions he was wrong about Mr. Trump and regretted saying the things he did.
It proved to be enough.
“Like some others, JD 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,” Mr. Trump said in his endorsement statement. “He is our best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race.”
The highly coveted Trump endorsement has been widely viewed as a major victory for Mr. Vance in his quest to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who is backing former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken.
Ms. Timken, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel and businessman Mike Gibbons also had sought Mr. Trump’s support. State Sen. Matt Dolan, who also is running, did not court Mr. Trump’s backing.
It is not unheard of for Mr. Trump to rescind an endorsement.
Earlier this year he withdrew support for Rep. Mo Brooks’ US Senate bid in Alabama after Mr. Brooks urged fellow Republicans to stop obsessing over the 2020 election results. Mr. Brooks had been lagging in the polls.
The letter from the early Ohio Trump supporters says that Mr. Vance was working against Mr. Trump when they were working for him and that Mr. Vance has not developed relationships with the grassroots activists.
“While JD Vance may have apologized and now says nice things about you (as candidate Vance) – the fact is JD Vance never once apologized for working against our movement and most importantly calling us – your original supporters – racist,” the letter says. “This endorsement of JD Vance is a betrayal to not only your Ohio supporters but Trump supporters across our great nation!”