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J.D. Vance denies supporting abusive marriages after viral comments

Election 2022 Senate Ohio
Posted at 7:04 PM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 19:38:28-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance has been under fire after a video clip surfaced of him speaking about violent marriages, but his team said his words were taken out of context and twisted.

Social media users argue his comments show he believes people in abusive relationships should stay together for the sake of the institution of marriage and for the family.

While talking to a California high school last September, the nominee addressed why he thinks divorces are more common now than generations ago, VICE News reported.

“This is one of the great tricks that I think the sexual revolution pulled on the American populace, which is the idea that like, ‘well, okay, these marriages were fundamentally, you know, they were maybe even violent, but certainly they were unhappy — and so getting rid of them and making it easier for people to shift spouses like they change their underwear, that’s going to make people happier in the long term,’” Vance told the moderator in the video published by VICE.

The Vance campaign said the media, specifically VICE, is spreading disinformation. News 5 reached out, giving him the opportunity to defend his allegations against the media company.

The story was ready to air on Wednesday, but after several times being pushed back and eventually denied, the team gave Vance another day. Instead, he sent someone from his campaign.

"This is a very good case study in the way in which the media works and they twist words and they do it on the behest of a campaign and most likely the mainstream media, they do it on behest of the Democratic Party," Vance's Senior Strategist Jai Chabria said. "This reporter at VICE, it was extremely dishonest for him to start to say that he was okay with marital violence."

The article, titled "JD Vance Suggests People in ‘Violent’ Marriages Shouldn’t Get Divorced," provides the link to the uncut video.

“Maybe it worked out for the moms and dads, though I’m skeptical. But it really didn’t work out for the kids of those marriages,” Vance said to the moderator. "That’s what I think all of us should be honest about, is we’ve run this experiment in real time. And what we have is a lot of very, very real family dysfunction that’s making our kids unhappy.”

Watch the full comments on VICE's YouTube page.

Media has "purposely" been missing the "fundamental point" Vance was trying to make, the strategist said.

"This is a comment that he made where he's talking about how it's important that couples stay together for the kids, that we actually have good kids first," he said. "All he is saying is that it is far too often the case where couples get divorced, they split up and they don't take the kids needs into consideration."

It is "preposterous" to say that Vance supports individuals staying in relationships that are abusive, he added, especially because the candidate was "the victim of domestic abuse when he was a kid."

In Vance's book "Hillbilly Elegy," he referenced growing up in a home of alcoholism and substance abuse, referencing it as "violent," as well. His grandparents' relationship was "incredibly chaotic," he added in the Sept. statement.

"They fought a lot. They were very, you know, earlier in their lives, they were even violent with each other, but they never got divorced," Vance said in a 2020 interview with the Chris Buskirk Show. "There's this weird sense of just devotion for its own sake, that I think has its downsides, to be honest, it certainly has downsides, but I think is a very useful trait. And something I just don't see enough among the professional class in this country.”

Thousands of users online have rallied against Vance, calling his comments "disgusting," "offensive," and some alleging that his words could cause "many deaths."

RELATED: Black state lawmakers take aim at Vance over comments likening abortion to slavery

When asked if there was a more clear way Vance could have made his point, instead of referencing violent marriages, Chabria said no.

"If someone has an agenda and they want to write something, you can never be clear enough for them," the strategist responded.

This video has been shared widely, including by Vance's Democratic opponent Tim Ryan on his campaign Twitter.

Ryan posted a clip of his statement on Twitter while commenting that "JD Vance thinks parents should stay in violent marriages 'for the sake of their kids.' That's not just wrong, it's unbelievably dangerous."

The Democratic congressman's tweet has been liked and shared about 30,000 times, including by nonpartisan accounts with millions of followers.

"I think it's absolutely dangerous and irresponsible," Ryan told News 5. "Trying to, you know, judge people or pressure people who are already in a very difficult circumstance, I think shows how out of touch, quite frankly, J.D. Vance is from the average family and how complicated situations can be."

Ryan rejected that the comments were taken out of context, citing that the video "doesn't lie," and that the Republican can "backpedal all he wants," but this is very consistent with his other views on women.

RELATED: Vance would vote against codifying right to marriage for same-sex couples

"That's outrageous in 2022. If he wants to run for Senate in 1800, that may be a different story — but this is a modern society where people have rights and liberties and freedom to get out of those kinds of relationships and circumstances," Ryan said. "[The comments Vance made are] about controlling women's bodies. It's about forcing women to stay in violent situations when they're married or if they want to be able to get out. It's about autonomy."

Chabria wasn't surprised by Ryan's response, and even said he was expecting it.

"Tim Ryan, our opponent — look, here's the thing, the reason this stuff happens is because they need it," Chabria said. "It has to be a distraction from the fundamental issues that Ohioans care about, what Ohioans care about — they care about putting food on the table."

The Vance campaign Twitter showed the exact kind of video clipping his team condemns, however they deny it is out of context.

"I don't think inflation is really an issue," the short video clip showed Ryan told CNN.

Another tweet from Vance of a Breitbart article about Ryan’s comments on inflation showed about a thousand have interacted.

"I think when people lob these accusations and they're not backed up, they lose credibility because it's very easy to refute," Ryan said in response.

RELATED: Still anyone’s U.S. Senate seat despite Tim Ryan raising four times as much money as J.D. Vance

With greater context and seeing the full video, Ryan said the majority of his answer is addressing how inflation is a big concern for voters but also adds that it shouldn’t deter job growth.

"But right now, we need, we need a tax cut. I don't think inflation is really an issue when it comes to investing into the jobs of the future," he said.

Earlier in the conversation, Ryan addresses how people are "getting crushed" by inflation — and how "the gas prices, the food prices, the supply chain lock up, the whole nine yards, it's been brutal."

Watch Ryan's full interview with CNN here.

"When the record comes out, you look foolish and you look like you're willing to say anything to be able to gain power so that you can then control people," Ryan added. "I have a record, so we can always, you know, if something said about me, refer back to my record and what I've done and what my beliefs have been and how I have delivered on whatever the topic that's being manipulated is."

Chabria said Ryan and mainstream and some local media have twisted Vance's words, and Ohio voters know the kind of person he is, despite his comments being published in full.

"What I'm confident of is that the Ohioans are not stupid, even though some in the media think they are," Chabria said. "You're a local reporter and so you're with the people here and you see them, but a lot of these national reporters, they're on the coast and they truly look down on us as Ohioans... That's why I think that I'm not too worried about these kinds of things. It's a pain in the neck. It's an annoyance. We have to deal with it. But I'm not worried about it on Election Day."

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.