Trump has a built-in excuse if his JD Vance endorsement flops with voters: Larry Sabato
Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump is headed to Ohio on Saturday night for a rally designed to boost the candidacy of "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance whose run for the Republican nomination to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate was moribund before the former president angered local Ohio GOP activists with his choice.

As Fox News is reporting, "Trump backed Vance for the GOP Senate nomination in Ohio after months of the top candidates jockeying for his support. Rivals Mike Gibbons, Jane Timken and Josh Mandel — all advised and endorsed by at least some Trump-world regulars — sparred with Vance and each other about whose support for Trump was more genuine."

Whether the rally boosts Vance into the upper ranks remains to be seen with University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato stating it could be possible and telling Fox, "Here is a case where the Trump endorsement could really make all the difference."

With Trump aides worried that the failure of some of his endorsees to win could damage his reputation as a "kingmaker," Sabato claimed Vance might be less of a risk -- not because he will definitely win -- but because the race in Ohio is so unique because of the make-up of the conservatives battling for the nomination.

After saying it's unlikely a Vance loss will hurt Trump, the longtime political observer elaborated, "What Trump will say, and it's somewhat credible, really, is that, ‘Well, they’re all for me, or at least four of the five'."

"Trump has an easy way out,' he added. "‘They saw what a great job I was doing and they all fell in line and we will all get behind the nominee.’"

"Also, suppose Vance loses, but he loses within a couple points," Sabato continued. "Well, that's defensible…. This is not going to reduce Trump's support among Republican voters because his preferred choice lost by two points, if that's what happens."

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