Skip to content

In the Face of Putin's Aggression in Ukraine, JD Vance Says ‘America First’

  • Vance says focus belongs on southern U.S. border not Ukraine’s
  • Critics say ‘America first’ supports interests here and abroad
JD Vance speaks at a town hall event at a restaurant in Strongsville, Ohio.

JD Vance speaks at a town hall event at a restaurant in Strongsville, Ohio.

Photographer: Mark Niquette/Bloomberg

Republican Senate candidate JD Vance sought to deepen his populist appeal in Ohio by striking an “America First” tone and trivializing Russia’s threats to Ukraine. But that stance risks hurting his odds in a state with a large Ukrainian-American population.

Before the invasion, Vance said that he doesn’t really care what happens to Ukraine and the U.S. needs to pay more attention to its Mexican border. After Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine, Vance called it a tragedy but expounded on and stood by his stance that helping Ukraine can’t come before taking care of U.S. problems. But that’s a potentially hazardous gambit in Ohio, home to one of the largest blocs of Ukrainian-Americans in the U.S., estimated at as many as 80,000 people.