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Ohio Republican U.S. Senate candidate JD Vance at a rally with former President Donald Trump in Delaware, Ohio. (AP) Ohio Republican U.S. Senate candidate JD Vance at a rally with former President Donald Trump in Delaware, Ohio. (AP)

Ohio Republican U.S. Senate candidate JD Vance at a rally with former President Donald Trump in Delaware, Ohio. (AP)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg April 28, 2022

Attack ad twists JD Vance’s words on racism and Trump voters

If Your Time is short

  • An edited video makes it seem as though J.D. Vance said most people voted for Trump for racist reasons.

  • The video left out key words and context.

  • Vance actually said that while some people might have had racist reasons, the great majority of people voted for Trump because of his message on jobs.

Of the five Ohio Republicans hoping to be their party’s nominee for U.S. Senator, four openly angled for the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Trump picked "Hillbilly Elegy" author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance.

Less than a week before the May 3 primary, Club for Growth Action, a super PAC backing one of Vance’s competitors Josh Mandel, ran an ad that said Trump got it wrong with Vance. 

Here’s the transcript:

Vance on video: The elites were right about Donald Trump, right. I'm a never Trump guy.

Male actor: Has Trump seen this?

Newscast clip: President Trump tweeting a surprise endorsement of Mitt Romney for his run for …

Female actor 1: How'd that turn out? 

Male actor: Look, I love Trump, but he's getting it wrong with J.D. Vance, too. 

Vance on video: I might have to vote for Hillary Clinton. 

Vance on video: People who voted for Trump voted for him for racist reasons.

Male actor: Where does he get off saying that?

Female actor 2: We've got our own eyes in our own ears.

Female actor 1: J.D. Vance is a fraud.

The clip that caught our ear was of Vance saying, "People who voted for Trump voted for him for racist reasons." There’s an obvious video edit in that section, and we wanted to see what the ad left out.

Turns out, it was a deceptive edit that changed the meaning of Vance’s words.

The full context shows Vance didn't mean all Trump voters

The video comes from an on-stage discussion with Vance in 2017 at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. The theme was America in the Trump era, and it’s worthwhile to see both how the interviewer teed up his question, and how Vance answered it.

"Where do you think race played into all this?" the interviewer asked. "Because I think the sort of myth is that all these Trump supporters are vehement racists and anti-immigrant. And so where do you think it played in?"

"Race definitely played a role in the 2016 election," Vance said. "I think that race will always play a role in our country. It's just sort of a constant fact of American life.

"And definitely some people who voted for Trump were racists, and they voted for him for racist reasons. I always resist the idea that the real thing driving most Trump voters was racial anxiety or racial animus, partially because I didn't see it."

Vance goes on to say that the primary reason most people voted for Trump was his focus on jobs.

"That was the core thesis of Trump's entire argument," Vance said. "And so it strikes me as a little bizarre to chalk it up to sort of racial animus. Because, one, the country is less racist now than it was 15 years ago. And we weren't electing Donald Trump 15 years ago. And two, that wasn't the core part of his message, and that wasn't what a lot of his voters were really connecting with."

How the edits leave a misleading impression

The Club for Growth attack ad made small but telling edits in Vance’s words. Someone watching the ad heard, "People who voted for Trump voted for him for racist reasons."

The full version was, "Definitely some people who voted for Trump were racists, and they voted for him for racist reasons. I always resist the idea that the real thing driving most Trump voters was racial anxiety or racial animus."

First, the ad cut his first word, "some." That made it sound like Vance was talking about all Trump voters.

The next edit is subtle. It deletes "were racists, and they." This makes the statement more blunt.

But the most misleading edit was dropping Vance’s very next sentence: "I always resist the idea that the real thing driving most Trump voters was racial anxiety or racial animus."

Club for Growth vice president for communication Joe Kildea rejected the idea that the edits changed Vance’s meaning.

Our ruling

A Club for Growth Action ad said Vance had said, "People who voted for Trump voted for him for racist reasons."

In the full interview from which those words were drawn, Vance allowed that some people voted for Trump for racist reasons, but he said most people voted for Trump for his policies on jobs. Vance rejected the idea that racism played much of a role in Trump’s win.

The edited version of Vance’s words gave a very different spin than what he actually expressed.

We rate this claim False.

 

Our Sources

Club for Growth, Don't be fooled, April 26, 2022

University of Chicago Institute of Politics, America in the Trump Era: J.D. Vance,Feb. 3, 2017

Check Your Fact, Did Senate Candidate JD Vance Call Trump Voters Racist As Alleged By His Opponent?, Aug. 14, 2021

Politico, ‘My god what an idiot’: J.D. Vance gets whacked for past Trump comments, Oct. 23, 2021

Email exchange, Joe Kildea, vice president of communications, Club for Growth, April 27, 2022

Email exchange, Taylor Van Kirk, press secretary, J. D. Vance for Senate, April 27, 2022

 

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Attack ad twists JD Vance’s words on racism and Trump voters

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