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Trump endorses J.D. Vance in Ohio Republican Senate primary

In a statement, Trump acknowledged the difficult decision he faced in choosing to wade into the crowded primary for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. At least three other Trump-aligned candidates had been jockeying for his support.
“I’ve studied this race closely and I think J.D. is the most likely to take out the weak, but dangerous, Democrat opponent — dangerous because they will have so much money to spend,” Trump said, presumably referring to US Rep. Tim Ryan, who is likely to win the Democratic primary.

In his endorsement, which comes ahead of the former President’s April 23 campaign rally in the state, Trump called on Republicans to coalesce behind Vance before the May 3 primary.

“it is time for the MAGA movement … to unite behind J.D.’s campaign because, unlike so many pretenders and wannabes, he will put America First,” he said.

Trump’s endorsement comes just hours after Vance’s rivals penned a letter to the former President arguing that Vance would be a weak general election candidate due to the negative comments he has previously made about Trump and his supporters. Vance was highly critical of Trump during the 2016 presidential election and openly mused about supporting then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

But in meetings with the former President at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and numerous appearances on Fox News, Vance has spent the past year embracing a new image as one of the leading proponents of Trumpism and a Senate candidate committed to advancing the former President’s “America First” policy agenda.

“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,” Trump said Friday, describing Vance as the GOP’s “best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race.”

This story has been updated with additional reaction and details.

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