Vance calls for end to U.S. funding to Ukraine, believes Trump will return to rally in Ohio

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 2:10 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Republican U.S. Senate Candidate JD Vance made another stop in Toledo this week and spoke with 13abc. He reacted to the news that First Solar is expanding in northwest Ohio, discussed what he likes about Sen. Rob Portman’s governing style, and addressed the fundraising challenges Republicans have faced during the 2022 campaign.

You can watch the interview in full below.

13abc: First Solar just announced it is expanding its manufacturing footprint in northwest Ohio. It credits the Biden administration and the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act. I know you’ve said solar and wind aren’t the answer and we have to keep in mind other energy sources. How much of a role do you think it does play in our immediate future and how much of a role can Ohio play in that?

JD Vance: I think First Solar is a great company and it’s great that they’re investing more in the state and we should all celebrate that. I also think that there are a couple of other issues. So one is, while the Inflation Reduction Act may have helped First Solar, I also think it makes it more likely to end up closing Line 5, which will be devastating to the energy economy in northwestern Ohio, to the manufacturing economy. So I think Ohioans, and especially people in northwest Ohio, should expect good policy on solar, but also good policy on all other energy sources. They shouldn’t be forced to pick one or the other because I think it’s bad for our economy.

The more important thing with First Solar actually, and I know the CEO reasonably, I wouldn’t say that we’re good friends, but I’ve talked to him a little bit about this - long term, unless you prevent Chinese dumping into our market, you’re never going to have a viable American solar industry. It’s a great company, but it can be destroyed unless we can prevent the Chinese from dumping solar panels into the American market. So the most important thing for First Solar is not some subsidies from any administration. It’s preventing the Chinese dumping which the Biden administration and Tim Ryan, I think have been on the wrong side of.

13abc: And Tim Ryan talks a lot about China in his campaign. Are there any points that he makes that you can see yourself agreeing with him on when it comes to China? And how would you be different?

JD Vance: The problem with Tim Ryan is now how he talks about China. There are a lot of areas of agreement there. The problem with Tim Ryan is that he doesn’t do anything about it. He doesn’t actually do anything about it. His voting record in Washington, on the China issue, on protecting American manufacturing, has been very bad. He says the right things when he’s doing his TV commercials, when he’s actually supposed to be representing us in Washington, it’s a bad, it’s a bad deal.

13abc: Is there anything that you have to say when you’re on the campaign trail that you think maybe once you get to Washington, it’ll be different? Because campaigning and governing are very different.

JD Vance: Well, campaigning and governing certainly are very different. But I think you have to be honest with yourself and also the voters more importantly about what you plan to do. So what I try to do is say, look, the things that I care about, the things that I want to accomplish, these are the things that we’re actually going to be doing once we get to Washington, D.C. If you’re not really an honest campaign with voters, you don’t deserve to get elected.

And the other thing I’d say is that certainly, the thing I try to be mindful of, is what I want to close the southern border and stop the flow of fentanyl into the country. I want to bring back American manufacturing. I want to support the police and put more violent criminals behind bars. Some of these things are limited by the other side by, you know, the president signing the bills and so forth. But I think you can say on one hand, I want to do all these things, recognize that government is fundamentally limited and what can it can accomplish. But no, I feel like the things that I talked about on the campaign trail are the things I want to work on in Washington and there’s not too much difficulty there.

13abc: And the man who you’re trying to fill the seat of is Senator Rob Portman. He’s one who reaches across the aisle more than almost anybody in Washington. Only two other Republican senators vote with President Biden more than him. Where would you see your voting record falling with President Biden? Would you be like a Rob Portman who would cross the aisle frequently or be on the other side and avoid anything that Biden supports?

JD Vance: I think Rob Portman has been an incredibly effective senator for the people Ohio. It’s not just during the Biden administration, but during his entire career. There are a lot of pieces of legislation with Rob Portman’s name on it that were good for the people of Ohio. There are some issues I disagree with Rob Portman on. We agree certainly more than we disagree, but I think his fundamental model as the guy who cares about public policy and cares about the details of legislation, that’s a really good model to follow. The alternative model is Tim Ryan who votes to rename post offices but doesn’t get anything done. I certainly want to be more of a Rob Portman than a Tim Ryan.

13abc: Is Ukraine one of those issues in which you disagree with Senator Portman?

JD Vance: Yeah, it is, actually. I mean, I think that he’s certainly right that the Russians are the bad guys in this situation, at least Vladimir Putin is the bad guy in this situation. You don’t want to blame the entire country. He’s certainly right that Ukraine is a great ally to us and we want the Ukrainians to be successful. But I do think that we have to get to a point, and this is where we do disagree, we’ve got to stop the money spigot to Ukraine eventually. We cannot fund a long-term military conflict that I think ultimately has diminishing returns for our own country.

13abc: How long will we wait on that?

JD Vance: I think we’re at the point where we’ve given enough money in Ukraine, I really do. We’ve given them 80 billion dollars. The Europeans need to step up. And frankly, if the Ukrainians and the Europeans more importantly, knew that America wasn’t going to foot the bill, they might actually step up. And it’s not just the direct support to Ukraine, we talked about energy earlier. The Europeans have structured their energy economy in a way that empowers Vladimir Putin. The thing that I don’t want us to do is subsidize bad European energy policy by funneling money into Ukraine. Vladimir Putin would be super weak if the Europeans weren’t doing stupid things with their energy policy, like, you know, completely over-relying on renewables at the expense of fossil fuels. If they had a more sensible energy policy, the Ukrainians wouldn’t need the level of American support that we’ve had.

13abc: On the campaign. Is there a concern among Republicans about Democrats out fundraising and our spending for Republicans? Where do you see your campaign right now, in terms of financial strength?

JD Vance: Well, I think our campaign is doing good. I feel very confident about us winning. I think the message is very simple. Do you want to rubber stamp for the policies of the last couple of years? That’s Tim Ryan. Or do you want somebody who’s actually to get some things constructively done for the people of Ohio? Put the bad guys behind bars, support the cops and close that southern border? I think if you want that, then I’m your guy. I think that message is really resonating, which is why feel confident about the campaign.

In the national fundraising picture, Democrats almost always do better in national fundraising than Republicans do. That’s primarily because they have a lot of national donors who spread money across these different races. I don’t really worry about that, because I think we have a better message in this campaign. And certainly, if money was all that mattered, then you know, Hillary Clinton would have been elected president in 2016 and she wasn’t. So at the end of the day, having a good message and having the right candidates I think matters more than money. We’ve got the money we need to get the message out and the campaign is in good shape.

13abc: The Washington Post says Peter Thiel doesn’t want to continue to fund campaigns this late in the game. Does that make a difference for your campaign? Because he was a huge bankroller for the primary.

JD Vance: You know, I haven’t seen that particular article. I’ve certainly heard some of the chatter, so I can probably piece together what the article is about. Look, I mean, we’re having to take support from wherever we can get it. Peter is a good friend and I think he’s been right on a lot of big issues, particularly on the China issue over the last several years. But I feel like, in our campaign in Ohio, we are in a good position when it comes to resources. We’ve got the money we need to get the message out. That’s all I really care about. And like I said, we’re in a good shape there.

13abc: One more thing. Does Donald Trump come back between now and the general to campaign?

JD Vance: I don’t know when but I certainly suspect that the president will eventually come back to do a rally, I don’t know if it will happen in September or October. But I will be surprised if the President doesn’t come back to do a rally at least once.

Editors note: Some portions of the interview were edited for clarity.

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