Republican senate candidate and Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance asked Fox viewers “not to judge me” by his brutal 2016 criticism of Donald Trump who, Vance now says, “was a good president.”
In case you missed the controversy, Vance, running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, tried to cancel his past attacks on Trump but his deleted tweets were outed last week by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski. Business Insider notes the predicament for Vance, given that he is running a campaign “in the spirt of” Trump.
[T]he 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.
And what else would a GOP candidate do in such a sticky situation other than seek some Republican Rehab on Fox News ? Yesterday, Fox anchor Alicia Acuna teed up softballs for Vance:
ACUNA: You met with former President Trump earlier this year. It’s a coveted endorsement in these primaries for sure. And, as you know, there are reports out there that say that you have these deleted tweets that come from 2016 where you heavily criticized the president, that you were voting for somebody else. One, can you confirm for us that those were, in fact, your tweets and that you did, in fact, delete them and, if so, what’s changed?
VANCE: Sure, well like a lot of people, I criticized Trump back in 2016 and I’d ask folks not to judge me by – based on what I said in 2016 because I’ve been very open about the fact that I did say those critical things and, uh, I regret them and I regret being wrong about the guy. I think that he was a good president. I think he made a lot of good decisions for people and I think he took a lot of flack.
And, as you probably appreciate, Alicia, you know I’ve taken a lot of flack myself over the last few years for standing up for the president’s voters but also standing up for the agenda.
And I think that the most important thing is, is not what you said five years ago but whether you’re willing to stand up and take, take the heat and take the hits for actually defending the interests of the American people because that’s what this business of politics should be all about.
If Vance is so willing to stand up and take the heat, why did he delete the tweets? It seems an obvious follow-up question, not to mention asking about specific old tweets, such as this one, as captured by Kaczynski, in which Vance said, "Trump makes people I care about afraid. Immigrants, Muslims, etc. Because of this I find him reprehensible. God wants better of us":
Instead, Acuna gave the appearance of asking a tough question when, in reality, it was an opening for Vance to pitch his case:
ACUNA: Are you concerned that this is gonna become a gift to some of your primary challengers?
VANCE: Oh, I’m sure they’ll use it against me and, of course, I think they have baggage of their own when it comes to President Trump and when it comes to other issues. But I think my advantage in this race is that we’re talking and I’m talking about real issues. That’s the most important thing. And I think once people get a sense of who I am, of what I care about, of where I come from and where I see the country and its opportunities, then I don’t worry that what I said about President Trump or anything else five years ago is gonna be the defining issue of the campaign. I think the defining issue of this campaign is gonna be how do we stop the elites from plundering the greatest country of the world? How do we get our ruling class to start reinvesting and rebuilding this country?
Still to be determined: whether Vance's apology tour will continue on Fox’s much higher-rated prime time shows.
Meanwhile, you can watch Vance try to suck up to Trump viewers below, from the July 5, 2021 America Reports.