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The day after an intruder struck Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with a hammer, Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance called the attack terrible during an impromptu news conference at a campaign event.
Vance made no other public statements about the incident.
In competitive Senate races, about half the Republican candidates posted about the attack on Twitter, and about half did not — including Vance.
At a Fox News town hall-style event in Ohio, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan fielded a question about the increasingly harsh tone in American politics. Ryan said extremism "needs to be confronted," and pointed to the attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
"What happened to Paul Pelosi was an absolute tragedy," Ryan said. "I don't care what your politics are. It's not about that."
In the early hours on Oct. 28, a man broke into the Pelosi residence in San Francisco and struck Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer. The suspect, David DePape, faces a laundry list of charges including assault, attempted murder and attempted kidnapping.
Ryan then compared the response of his Republican opponent, J.D. Vance, with that of Ohio’s senator and governor.
"J.D. Vance said nothing about this," Ryan said. "You should ask him, because Rob Portman and Mike DeWine did, and J.D. Vance was silent."
Ryan was wrong on the last point.
The day of the attack, Vance was at a campaign event in Canton, Ohio. After speaking, Vance fielded questions from reporters. The local newspaper, The Canton Repository, reported his comment on the Pelosi attack, remarks verified by Politifact.
As the impromptu news conference was ending, a reporter asked Vance about the Pelosi attack.
"It's terrible," Vance said. "I hope that he's OK. It sounds like he is going to be OK. But it's just further evidence we need to lower the temperature in this country."
As it turned out, only The Canton Repository reported on Vance’s comments.
Vance’s press team said that national press outlets including The New York Times, Fox News and Business Insider, were part of that gaggle with reporters. The campaign’s thinking, a spokesperson said, was that Vance had weighed in on the episode and his comments didn’t need further amplification.
A Washington Post roundup about Republican candidates’ responses to the attack did not include Vance’s words.
Izzy Levi, spokeswoman for the Ryan campaign, acknowledged Vance’s comments on the attack.
"He may have responded when asked that one time, but has made no proactive comment on the matter," Levi said.
Some Republicans took to Twitter to post their thoughts. That list includes Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who said, "We must all stand up against this violence. I wish Mr. Pelosi a speedy and full recovery."
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine decried this "terrible and senseless act of violence."
But just as many Republican Senate candidates did not follow suit. That group includes Herschel Walker in Georgia, Adam Laxalt in Nevada, Ted Budd in North Carolina and Blake Masters in Arizona.
During the same Fox News town hall event where Ryan claimed Vance had said nothing, Vance said he has condemned "the violence against Paul Pelosi from the very beginning."
Ryan said that Vance "said nothing" about the attack on Paul Pelosi.
Vance had spoken. In response to a reporter’s question, he called the attack terrible, and said "we need to lower the temperature in this country." National press did not report his words; a local newspaper did.
Other Republicans leaders in Ohio as well as Republican Senate candidates in other states released statements via Twitter condemning the attack. Vance did not do that.
We rate this claim False.
Fox News, Ohio Town Hall, Nov. 1, 2022
The Repository, J.D. Vance, Madison Gesiotto Gilbert make Canton area campaign stop, Oct. 28, 2022
Rob Portman, tweet, Oct. 28, 2022
Mike DeWine, tweet, Oct. 29, 2022
Mehmet Oz, tweet, Oct. 28, 2022
Ron Johnson, tweet, Oct. 28, 2022
Joe O’Dea, tweet, Oct. 28, 2022
Don Bolduc, tweet, Oct. 28, 2022
Washington Post, Many Republican candidates haven’t commented on the Pelosi attack, Nov. 1, 2022
U.S. Justice Department, Man Charged with Assault and Attempted Kidnapping Following Breaking and Entering of Pelosi Residence, Oct. 31, 2022
Interview, press office, J. D. Vance for Senate, Nov. 2, 2022
Email exchange, Izzi Levy, press secretary, Tim Ryan for Senate, Nov. 2, 2022
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