‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author J.D. Vance defends comments on Donald Trump

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the attribution of a statement from Mike Gibbons' campaign.

Author and U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance on Tuesday disputed criticism that he flip-flopped on his support for Donald Trump, saying he didn't take the former president seriously at first but always believed in his agenda.

“I just didn’t think this guy would actually deliver on it, and he proved me wrong,” Vance said in an interview with the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau. 

Author of "Hillbilly Elegy," J.D. Vance announces his Senate bid at Middletown Tube Works in his hometown on July 1, 2021.

Vance entered the crowded Senate race to replace Ohio Sen. Rob Portman last week, joining a slew of Republicans and Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan in a fight for the seat. The venture capitalist is best known for his memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” which depicts his family's struggles in Appalachian Kentucky and his mother's addiction during his childhood in Middletown.

Other Republican candidates who are eager to secure Trump's endorsement have been quick to highlight their opponent's past. Vance called Trump “noxious” and “reprehensible” in 2016 and ultimately voted for independent Evan McMullin that year.

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