When Donald Trump held a rally in Ohio last month, it was ostensibly to help J.D. Vance, the Republican candidate in the state’s open U.S. Senate race. But once onstage, the former president apparently just couldn’t help himself, telling those in attendance that Vance “is kissing my ass, he wants my support so much.”
Last night, the contenders met for a second debate, and Trump’s remark continued to haunt his ally. NBC News reported:
One of the moderators, longtime Youngstown political journalist Bertram de Souza, referred to how Ryan had branded Vance at the previous debate as Trump’s “a-- kisser.” ... Trump “told a joke at a rally based on a false New York Times story, and Tim Ryan has decided to run his entire campaign on it,” Vance said before he tried to land another Pelosi punch. De Souza pressed: “You took that as a joke?” Vance replied that he knows Trump “very well” and that he “didn’t take offense.”
The first-time candidate added, “Everybody there took it as a joke.”
Everybody at that rally did not take it as a joke. In fact, The Toledo Blade published an analysis soon afterward with a headline that read, “Did Donald Trump humiliate J.D. Vance for fun?”
With this in mind, it didn’t come as too big of a surprise to see Ryan continue to exploit this last night. “You were calling Trump America’s Hitler,” the lawmaker told Vance. “Then you kissed his ass. And then he endorsed you. And you said he’s the greatest president of all time.”
Ryan added, “What do you think they want for that? They want your loyalty. You prove that you’ll kiss their ass too. ... If you think you’re going to help Ohio, [and] you’re not, if you can’t even stand up for yourself.”
NBC News’ report added that the back-and-forth went on for nearly 10 minutes, with Vance trying to argue that Ryan has voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“J.D., you keep talking about Nancy Pelosi,” Ryan said. “If you want to run against Nancy Pelosi, move back to San Francisco and run against Nancy Pelosi.”
The latest USA Today/Suffolk University poll, released yesterday, found Vance leading the congressman by a narrow margin, 47% to 45%. Election Day is three weeks from today. Watch this space.