Stay with us here. As the Republican primary for an Ohio senate seat heats up, Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance has been targeted by campaign ads questioning his loyalty to Donald Trump. You’d just assume that Trump’s ego would appreciate the fact that showing sufficient fealty to him has become a litmus test for Republican candidates. Loyalty to Trump is now a prerequisite for the GOP, and that’s normally the sort of thing the former president would eat up. Not this time.
The ads from the Club for Growth conservative group attack Vance for being a “Never Trumper” back in 2016, but by doing so, they also dredge up some of the insults he hurled at Trump, who demanded that the ads be taken down. Via Politico:
The commercials attacked Vance by using footage of him from 2016, when he described himself as a “Never Trump guy” and called Trump an “idiot,” “noxious” and “offensive.” The message was designed to hurt Vance in a Republican primary centered on fealty toward the former president. Vance, like others in the race, has cast himself as a staunch Trump ally.
But according to three people briefed on the call, Trump told McIntosh the commercials could have the effect of driving down his popularity in Ohio, which he won by 8 percentage points in the 2020 election.
To be clear, Trump’s concern was not about the effect that the ads would have on Vance, who has gone overboard showing the required deference to the former president. No, Trump’s concern is that the ads might make him look bad and hurt his reelection chances in 2024. That’s what loyalty to Trump gets you.