"Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance, who has come under fire after announcing his candidacy for Senate in Ohio because of comments and tweets he had made in 2016 about former President Donald Trump, told Newsmax Thursday that his critics are "phoneys" who consider him a "threat to the establishment."
"I've been very open about this," said Vance on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "I think that the president did a good job and cared about issues that I cared about. He served people that I cared about and he made the country a better place."
Vance recently joined the crowded field of candidates hoping to succeed retiring Sen. Rob Portman, and quickly came under criticism.
He said he thinks that many of those attacking him for what he said five years ago are attacking him because he's bringing serious issues to the forefront, "like the back and forth that I had with Google yesterday about how in bed they are with the Chinese Communist Party... I think people were attacking me because they recognize I can bring issues like that to the forefront. Not because you know, I changed my mind like so many people do."
Meanwhile, Vance has been deleting some tweets but insisted people shouldn't read much into that.
"I just delete my tweets every now and then because I'm a business guy, and I don't want to have a paper trail out there," said Vance, a venture capitalist and best-selling author. "(I shouldn't) constantly be looking over my shoulder at what I said three years ago, so I delete my tweets every now and then I do it just to sort of clean up my Twitter profile a little bit. I wouldn't read anything into it beyond that."
The race to replace Portman is one that could hinge on a Trump endorsement, and Vance said he's spoken with the former president about endorsing him.
"The president said very directly, he actually wants to see the candidates in the race," said Vance. "He wants this to show that we're actually the best delivering the message and the best to get voters excited, and I'm really optimistic that when the dust clears from his primary race that's clearly going to be me."
Vance said he's running on a platform based on "the recognition that the ruling class in this country has plundered our economy and middle-class jobs on the one hand, and on the other hand, they've censored anybody or called people racist who dare complain about what they've done to the country. I'm trying to run on real things."
Vance also commented on Trump's lawsuit against Big Tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google, saying he thinks the move is "very important" and he's glad Trump and his team are taking action.
"If we don't have access as conservatives to the modern digital public square, we're going to lose the debate," he said. "They're trying to shut us up. They're trying to silence us, because I think they know if we have a fair shot in this debate, we're going to win the votes and the confidence of the American people. So it's important for the president and, frankly, for all of us to push back against the censorship regime that's out there."