Freshman Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) had a sharp response to attacks his retiring colleague Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) levied against him in interviews with leftist Atlantic scribe McKay Coppins.
“Mitt Romney is one to talk about changing his mind publicly. He’s been on every side of 35 different issues,” Vance told Breitbart News exclusively on Thursday. “My job is to work for the people of Ohio, not get involved in petty personal disputes. I’ve been focused on that and will continue to do so in the future.”
Vance’s reply—that his mission is to do the will of the voters—comes after Romney attacked him in an excerpt from the forthcoming Coppins book on the former Massachusetts governor who carpet-bagged his way into Utah’s U.S. Senate seat. The part about Vance in particular, from an excerpt published by Coppins on Wednesday after Romney’s announcement that he would not be running for reelection, came as Romney was grumbling about the rise of people like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) in the GOP and the fall of establishment career politicians like himself.
Here is a part of that excerpt from the piece published in the Atlantic:
But as Romney surveyed the crop of Republicans running for Senate in 2022, it was clear that more Hawleys were on their way. Perhaps most disconcerting was J. D. Vance, the Republican candidate in Ohio. “I don’t know that I can disrespect someone more than J. D. Vance,” Romney told me. They’d first met years earlier, after he read Vance’s best-selling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy. Romney was so impressed with the book that he hosted the author at his annual Park City summit in 2018. Vance, who grew up in a poor, dysfunctional family in Appalachia and went on to graduate from Yale Law School, had seemed bright and thoughtful, with interesting ideas about how Republicans could court the white working class without indulging in toxic Trumpism. Then, in 2021, Vance decided he wanted to run for Senate, and reinvented his entire persona overnight. Suddenly, he was railing against the “childless left” and denouncing Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a “fake holiday” and accusing Joe Biden of manufacturing the opioid crisis “to punish people who didn’t vote for him.” The speed of the MAGA makeover was jarring.
“I do wonder, how do you make that decision?” Romney mused to me as Vance was degrading himself on the campaign trail that summer. “How can you go over a line so stark as that—and for what?” Romney wished he could grab Vance by the shoulders and scream: This is not worth it! “It’s not like you’re going to be famous and powerful because you became a United States senator. It’s like, really? You sell yourself so cheap?” The prospect of having Vance in the caucus made Romney uncomfortable. “How do you sit next to him at lunch?”
The severe departure from the ordinary decorum of a United States Senator—senators generally do not do what Romney just did here, attacking one of his colleagues so personally—is genuinely ironic coming from someone who regularly bashes anyone else who departs from the typical norms and stereotypes of what politicians are expected to do.
But it’s also interesting that it’s coming from in-depth interviews the failed 2012 GOP presidential nominee gave to Coppins of all people. Coppins, famously, in 2014 tried to kill then-future President Donald Trump’s then-nascent candidacy in the crib when he worked at the now-defunct BuzzFeed News. Before that publication shuttered its entire news division as the company faces extreme financial peril, back in 2014 as Breitbart News reported at the time, Coppins flew on Trump’s plane to Florida and stayed at his Mar-a-Lago resort acting like what Trump told Breitbart News at the time a “scumbag.” Of course, Romney—who projects himself as holier-than-thou and above reproach in terms of decorum—hangs around with leftist media “scumbag” types while breaking the decorum of the chamber of government he purports to revere.
Perhaps the ultimate irony is that the tale Coppins spun in 2014 proved just a short time later to be completely untrue—and Breitbart News’s version of events proven correct. Coppins’s narrative was that Trump was somehow faking running for president and that he would never actually do it. Well, fast forward three years from that original Coppins hit piece and one finds that Trump not only ran for president but he won—and sitting in the Oval Office.
One would think, then, that givens Coppins’ history of getting it so wildly wrong—he was clearly wrong about Trump—that anything he writes on these matters including predictions for a bright Romney globalist establishment future and doom for people like Vance, Hawley, and Trump should be viewed as extremely suspect at best.
That’s why Vance’s statement in response—an actually classy response that keeps his eyes on the mission he was elected to complete on behalf of Ohio voters—is particularly prescient. While Romney rides off into the irrelevant sunset, Vance will be legislating and governing—doing the job Romney was too incompetent to accomplish. Vance’s record already demonstrates significant successes on this front, as the freshman senator has championed a number of legislative successes. In other words: Vance’s future is bright, while Romney’s future is finished.