Vance wondered whether Trump was ‘America’s Hitler,’ says former roommate sharing screenshot

By: - April 19, 2022 3:40 am

Mar 28, 2022; Wilberforce, Ohio, USA; U.S. Senate Republican candidate J.D. Vance answers a question during Ohio’s U.S. Senate Republican Primary Debate at Central State University. Mandatory Credit: Joshua A. Bickel/Ohio Debate Commission

A state representative from Georgia has thrown a wrench into what was supposed to be something of a coronation for Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance. After securing former President Trump’s endorsement last week, Vance was set to campaign with Trump’s son Don Jr. before Trump himself visits Ohio this weekend.

Like Vance, Rep. Josh McLaurin, D-Sandy Springs, went to Yale for law school, and the two lived together for a time. Monday, McLaurin shared an apparent screenshot of a conversation they had in February of 2016.

“I go back and forth between thinking Trump is a cynical asshole like Nixon who wouldn’t be that bad (and might even prove useful) or that he’s America’s Hitler. How’s that for discouraging?” Vance writes in the message.

In the tweet, McLaurin said “the public deserves to know the magnitude of this guy’s bad faith.”

In a statement, Vance campaign manager Jordan Wiggins dismissed the image as old news.

“It’s laughable that the media treats J.D. not liking Trump six years ago as some sort of breaking news, when they’ve already covered it to death since this race began,” Wiggins wrote. “Clearly, President Trump trusts that J.D. is a genuine convert, as out of all the Republican candidates running, he endorsed J.D. and concluded that he is the strongest America First conservative in the race.”

Vance’s initial distaste for Trump is well-established. Trump’s endorsement letter even brings up the “not so great things” Vance said about him in the past.

In the screenshot, Vance described his party as “whether we like it or not, the party of lower-income, lower-education white people,” and argued “Trump is the fruit of the party’s collective neglect.”

Although Vance’s feelings toward the former president have made a complete turnaround, echoes of those frustrations with the party remain a feature in his pitch to voters. He regularly jokes there’s an evil party and stupid party in Washington — occasionally they get together to do something stupid and evil and they call it bipartisanship.

“And in particular, I think about that with NAFTA,” he described to a crowd in New Albany last month. “We all blame Bill Clinton for it, and it was his fault. But the Republican leadership went right along with it.”

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Nick Evans
Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.

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