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A new crop of GOP Senate candidates grapples with Trump-skeptical pasts

When Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose called into a local radio show this month, the host grilled the Republican Senate hopeful over his past disdain for former President Donald Trump — like how he positioned himself as “Never Trump” before the 2016 election and how he described Trump’s 2019 social media tirade against Black members of Congress as racist.

LaRose was ready with excuses for Bob Frantz, one of the state’s most influential right-wing voices. He said he had been “fooled” by the state’s anti-Trump former governor, John Kasich. He claimed to be the victim of a “false narrative” from a GOP primary rival. And he insisted he had never accused Trump of racism, offering a cleaned-up answer that didn’t match the quote that The Cincinnati Enquirer had printed after an editorial board interview.

For good measure, LaRose mentioned that he and Trump had dined together recently: “My Trump credentials are golden, rock-solid,” said LaRose, who has endorsed Trump’s 2024 campaign. “It doesn’t mean that I’ve agreed with him on everything. But I’m a strong supporter.”