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J.D. Vance Asks Voters “Are You a Racist? Do You Hate Mexicans?”

J.D. Vance
J.D. Vance for Senate
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Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance talks with a prospective voter at a rally.

J.D. Vance is running an attention grabbing political ad, and his senate campaign has captured Donald Trump's attention.

NBC News reports that Donald Trump is planning to endorse author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance in Ohio's GOP Senate primary. Vance recently released an ad that accuses the media of calling his supporters racists because they want to complete Trump’s border wall.

Nick Evans of the Ohio Capital Journal has been covering Vance’s campaign, and he discussed Vance’s platform with WYSO’s Jason Reynolds.

To start off, could you tell us a little bit about J.D. Vance’s transformation on Trump. Four or five years ago, he was anti-Trump. Now, he’s pro-Trump. He’s visited Trump in Florida. He’s been hanging out with Trump’s son, Donald Jr.. What’s behind that big shift?

"Well, I think when he previously said that he was not behind Trump, the political realities were a lot different than what they are today. He has made a big turn around, and that is something that he references in basically every political event that I go to, because that has to be a starting point for the voters in Ohio that he's reaching out to."

"I remember the very first event that I went to was at a shooting range, and he actually had his dad come out. And they had a bit of a back and forth with Vance saying, 'You know, my dad was right about Trump, and once he was actually in office, I saw what he was doing and I came around.'"

"Now, the policies that he is proposing are certainly in line with what we heard from Donald Trump. But whether or not that's a political calculation or a genuine change of heart, it's anyone's guess."

In your recent article in the Ohio Capital Journal, you addressed Vance's border plan and his new ad—this really attention grabbing ad. Let me play just the start of that...

So, Vance uses this divisive language, and he has this goal of finishing Trump's wall. But Vance has other plans that he thinks will slow immigration and stop the flow of illegal drugs. Can you explain his other border ideas for us?

"The thing that really drew me to this is that I've been to a number of different events with the candidates in the Senate race, and the one that has really had this crystallized vision that he has laid out in event after event and on debate stage after debate stage has been Vance on the border."

"Basically, his pitch is that we want to finish the border wall. We want to keep illegal immigrants from receiving welfare, and we also want to declare cartels terrorist organizations so that the the U.S. military can be deployed to fight them."

"Now, these three planks, they get right to the heart of Republican politics, but they're kind of dubious. They're not really rooted in anything real."

"Illegal immigrants, by and large, don't get welfare. The examples that he brought up for that are instances where a child that is a U.S. citizen receives benefits, but their parents, who aren’t U.S. citizens, might benefit indirectly from that."

"In terms of designating cartels as terrorist organizations, I spoke with a researcher who is an expert with the Brookings Institution on armed non-state actors, and what she laid out is you don't gain anything from doing that. And the idea that we're going to deploy troops into Mexico is just… It's patently ridiculous."

"The thing that's so interesting hearing this come from Vance is that he is the one Senate candidate who has stood apart from the pack in terms of Ukraine, saying, 'Look, we don't want to have anything to do with this because the more that we get engaged, the more likely it is somewhere down the line that we might get dragged into this.'"

"I pressed him after a debate about it, and his point was, in the case of Mexico, it is part of our national interest in a way in which Ukraine isn't."

This is a super crowded Republican field for just one Senate seat. If Trump were to endorse one of these candidates, would that person automatically become the favorite?

"Yes, and I think it is interesting to note that Trump actually is coming here on the 23rd. You know, early voting has begun. So, if he wants to do it and he wants to have an impact on the race, he probably better move quickly."