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GOP Candidate Defends Mocking Fatal 'Rust' Shooting Because 'Our Country Is Kind Of A Joke'

GOP Candidate Defends Mocking Fatal 'Rust' Shooting Because 'Our Country Is Kind Of A Joke'
Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Hillbilly Elegy author turned right-wing darling J.D. Vance is doubling down on a joke he made about the fatal shooting on the set of the Alec Baldwin film Rust last fall that left many aghast.

Vance, a Republican running for Senate in Ohio, made light of the shooting in the immediate aftermath of the accident, which left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead and others injured.

Many were outraged, but in a recent interview, Vance said he was entitled to joke about the incident because "our country is kind of a joke." See his comments below.

The Rust shooting occurred last fall on the New Mexico set of the film when Baldwin accidentally discharged a prop gun during a rehearsal, fatally hitting Hutchins, who was also a wife and mother to a nine-year-old son, in the chest.

Just one day later, Vance took to Twitter to implore the platform's CEO to reinstate former Republican President Donald Trump's account because he wanted to see what Trump would tweet at Baldwin, whom Trump notoriously hates because the actor played him on Saturday Night Live.

Asked by Ohio political reporter Taylor Popielarz why he made such an inappropriate joke less than 24 hours after Hutchins' death, Vance doubled down, telling Popielarz:

"...I think, unfortunately, our country is kind of a joke and we should be able to tell jokes about it, right? I think it's important for our politicians to have a sense of humor. I think it's important for us to be real people."

It's hard to imagine how intense the conservative uproar would be if a Democrat said "our country is kind of a joke." But Vance seemed unfazed, going on to say:

"Every single person that I know was joking about what Donald Trump would say if he was on Twitter, right? So I think the idea that we can't have somewhat offensive humor sometimes from our politicians is basically just asking us to have fake politicians all the time."
"That's not what I'm going to be. Maybe it turns some people off but I think the realness turns more people on."

Given the state of the Republican Party nowadays, Vance is probably right, but people on Twitter did not appreciate Vance's rhetoric at all.

Vance is the author of the 2016 memoir Hillbilly Elegy, which became a sensation in 2016 for its vivid portrayal of American poverty and the neglect the poor often experience at the hands of the American government.

He publicly supported Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 and was vocally critical of former Republican President Donald Trump until last year, when he deleted his anti-Trump tweets and announced his run for Senate as a pro-Trump Republican.