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Trump Picks JD Vance for VP            07/16 06:10

   JD Vance is supposed to help Donald Trump win the Midwest this fall.

   MILWAUKEE (AP) -- JD Vance is supposed to help Donald Trump win the Midwest 
this fall.

   But almost immediately after the Ohio senator was announced as Trump's vice 
presidential pick on Monday, one thing became clear: Vance, a 39-year-old 
Republican with less than two years in Congress, is not well-known among many 
in his party, even in the swing states Trump hopes he'll deliver.

   Michigan Republican Party Chairman Pete Hoekstra offered a blunt response 
when asked about Trump's pick minutes after it was announced: "We don't know 
him."

   "If he's from Ohio, he understands our state and the other northern 
battlegrounds," Hoekstra said, standing on the floor of the Republican National 
Convention. "But we haven't had a chance to take his measure yet."

   Trump's team now has less than four months to strengthen Vance's profile in 
the states that matter most this fall in his 2020 rematch against Democratic 
President Joe Biden. Already, a collection of political foes -- Democrats and 
Republicans -- is working to fill the void by seizing on Vance's inexperience 
in government, his nationalist views and his critical comments about Trump 
himself.

   "I'm not sure he helps him in the campaign," said veteran Republican 
pollster Neil Newhouse, suggesting Vance may be better positioned to help Trump 
enact his agenda on Capitol Hill if given the chance. "He's not that well-known 
even in Ohio. ... This isn't a campaign pick. It's a policy pick, a governing 
pick."

   Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway, who served as Trump's chief 
counselor while in the White House, had encouraged Trump to pick a different 
running mate in the weeks leading up to his announcement. Privately, she 
believed that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin would do 
more to help Trump win.

   Vance, who quickly developed a reputation as a MAGA firebrand in his short 
time on Capitol Hill, earned modest applause when he entered the packed 
convention hall for the first time Monday as Trump's running mate. The 
Republican senator posed for selfies, shook hands and signed posters. Later in 
the night, the crowd was more excited as he greeted Trump -- who entered the 
room with a bandage covering his right ear, injured in Saturday's assassination 
attempt -- for the ticket's first public appearance.

   Recent polling confirms the notion that most voters don't know Vance.

   Just 13% of registered voters said they had a favorable opinion of Vance 
with 20% an unfavorable one, according to a CNN poll conducted in late June. 
The majority said they had never heard of him or had no opinion.

   Trump's vice-presidential pick is arguably the most important decision of 
his 2024 campaign. Vance, who is literally half the 78-year-old Trump's age, 
and has the least political experience on a short list that included Rubio and 
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

   Sensing an opportunity, Trump's critics in both parties quickly went after 
him.

   "Almost any other choice might have expanded the map for them, but Trump 
needed a candidate who looked like him, talked like him, and thought like him. 
He needed a candidate who would grovel," former New Hampshire Republican Party 
chair Jennifer Horn wrote on X. "JD Vance was the least experienced, least 
qualified, most obsequious, psychopathic, servile candidate on the list."

   But Trump made up his own mind based on a different set of criteria.

   Trump especially liked Vance's performance on television, where he has 
become a fixture on conservative media. The former president also likes Vance's 
looks, saying he reminded him of "a young Abraham Lincoln."

   Trump is also hopeful Vance can draw from his life story growing up in 
Appalachia to help appeal to Midwestern voters. Vance has experienced poverty 
and addiction up close in a way that is uncommon among leading Republican 
officials.

   Vance also had another advantage: his chemistry with Trump. The first-term 
senator has developed a strong rapport with Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and 
leading MAGA figures during his recent rise in Republican politics.

   Vance is an Ivy League-educated author, former Marine and businessman. He is 
known for his aggressive questioning of Biden administration officials.

   Biden's campaign hosted a conference call Monday denouncing the pick, 
focusing especially on his limited record on abortion and the economy and his 
support for Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

   Vance previously said he would support a national abortion ban at 15 weeks 
of pregnancy. He also said he would not have voted to certify the 2020 election 
results, as former Vice President Mike Pence did over Trump's objections.

   "I will certainly take that matchup any day of the week and twice on 
Sunday," said Jen O'Malley Dillon, the Biden campaign chairwoman. "Because 
while Trump and Vance have an agenda focused on themselves and their wealthy 
donor friends, President Biden and Vice President Harris are fighting for the 
American people."

   One of Biden's greatest assets in his campaign against Vance might be what 
Vance previously said about Trump.

   During the early stages of Trump's political career, Vance cast Trump as "a 
total fraud," "a moral disaster" and "America's Hitler."

   "If you go back and listen to the things that JD Vance said about Trump ... 
he said some things about me, but see what he said about Trump," Biden told 
NBC's Lester Holt in an interview Monday.

   Vivek Ramaswamy, once considered a potential Trump running mate as well, 
described Vance as "a major asset" on the ticket whose evolution on Trump would 
ultimately help him connect with swing voters.

   "He's also somebody who can say, 'You know what, in 2016, I may not have 
voted for Donald Trump either, but here's why I am with him to the fullest 
today,'" Ramaswamy said.

   But for now, Vance joins the Trump presidential ticket as a mystery to many 
voters and elected officials alike.

   Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Vance was one of the few vice-presidential 
prospects that he "really haven't crossed paths with."

   "I don't know that much about him," Kemp said.

 
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