Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist and author of the bestselling book “Hillbilly Elegy,” disparaged then-President Donald Trump as a “moral disaster” whose administration had “no domestic policy agenda besides tax cuts” in Twitter direct messages from summer 2017.
Vance made the comments, which were sent to a former friend from law school and obtained and verified by CNN’s KFile, in the context of stating his opposition to the American Health Care Act – the Republican plan to replace Obamacare, which passed the House but not the Senate. Vance said he would attempt to personally lobby members of Congress to kill the bill.
“Can you imagine running as an anti-AHCA populist who thinks Trump is a moral disaster,” Vance wrote. “Where’s my constituency?”
In other anti-Trump comments from 2016, 2017 and 2018 found by CNN’s KFile in a review of Vance’s media appearances, he agreed that then-candidate Trump was a fraud who he didn’t think cared about people and said he might vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 if he really believed Trump could win.
“I cannot stand Trump because I think he’s a fraud. Well, I think he’s a total fraud that is exploiting these people,” Kentucky radio host Matt Jones said to Vance in August 2016.
“I do too,” Vance replied. “I agree with you on Trump, because I don’t think that he’s the person. I don’t think he actually cares about folks. I think he just recognizes that there was a hole in the conversation and that hole is that people from these regions of the country, they feel ignored. They feel left out and they feel very frustrated. And I think of course in a lot of ways they feel that way for totally justifiable reasons. So it’s a problem that Trump has been the vessel of a lot of that frustration.”
Vance entered the crowded primary to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman in early July. The field already included former State Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken and businessmen Bernie Moreno and Mike Gibbons.