Donald Trump endorsed Derrick Van Orden in Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District Thursday, throwing his backing behind a man who was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Derrick is a former Navy SEAL Senior Chief who bravely served and defended our Country,” Trump said in a statement. “He strongly supports our Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement, and he will always fight for Secure Borders, the Second Amendment, and our incredible Farmers. Derrick has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
Trump’s backing comes a day after 13-term Rep. Ron Kind (D) announced he would not be running for reelection, delivering a blow to Democratic hopes of retaining the swing seat. Republicans view it as a key pickup for 2024.
Van Orden said he was “proud” to receive Trump’s backing, adding that the former president “worked tirelessly to ensure that the future of our children and grandchildren will be a bright one by demonstrating the strong leadership that is desperately needed in America.”
In 2020, Kind was one of only seven Democratic members of Congress to win in a district that voted for Trump. His district is one of a handful of areas where support for Trump increased between 2016 and 2020.
Van Orden ran against Kind in a closer-than-expected race last cycle, and he’s already picking up support from powerful Republican leaders. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Whip Steve Scalise (La.) and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) have also endorsed him.
Van Orden went to Washington on Jan. 6 ― a trip paid for with leftover campaign funds ― to rally with other pro-Trump supporters who were trying to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory.
Van Orden claimed that he never set foot on Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, but as The Daily Beast reported, a photo from that day shows otherwise.
In an opinion piece published on Jan. 13, Van Orden said he left the area when the “protest had become a mob,” fearing that by staying, it “could be construed as tacitly approving this unlawful conduct.”
In 2015, Van Orden published “Book of Man: A Navy Seal’s Guide to the Lost Art of Manhood,” about the lessons he learned from being a Navy SEAL. In the book, as the La Crosse Tribune reported in 2020, Van Orden describes an incident in which he surprised two unsuspecting women by showing them a lieutenant’s swollen genitals (his “ball sack huge as a cantaloupe”).
He told the paper that he was “instructing two junior Medical Corps officers in recognition and treatment” ― even though he never identified the two “cute girls” as medical officers in the book.
Van Orden has also been outspoken about the role of traditional family structures, expressing admiration for “aboriginal cultures” because, he claims, women in those societies stay home and focus on child-rearing for the first six years of a child’s life. In a September 2020 interview, he drew a connection between the murder rate in “advanced cultures” and women having jobs.
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