Menu Close

Democrat Tim Ryan courts Trump voters in Ohio Senate race with 'Americans first' economic message

view original post

Ohio Democratic Senate nominee Rep. Tim Ryan is staking out centrist ground and courting Trump voters ahead of his matchup with GOP nominee JD Vance in the state’s pivotal open-seat Senate election this fall.

The middle is nothing new for Ryan, D-Ohio. That’s the lane he occupied during his presidential run in 2016. But with President Biden’s approval numbers sagging before the midterms, Ryan is remarkably explicit in distancing himself from Democratic partisan politics and adopting former President Donald Trump’s campaign language.

Ryan told Fox News Digital in a Wednesday interview that his campaign is about “trying to come together as Americans first, as opposed to Democrats and Republicans.”

TRUMP-BACKED JD VANCE WINS TUMULTUOUS SENATE GOP PRIMARY SHOWDOWN IN OHIO

“We got to get away from the Democrat-Republican thing, all these stupid fights,” Ryan said. “And we can only do that by being Americans first. China and Russia, they want us to keep fighting with each other. And to me, it’s playing right into their hands.”

Winning Ohio’s Senate midterm election won’t just be challenging for Ryan because of the national political environment, which many experts expect to hurt Democrats across the country. The 19-year House veteran, who shows up to union rallies in blue jeans and touts his family’s working-class history, is running in a state that’s shifted to the right, coinciding with Trump’s rise.

Ryan, however, brings voters a message that seems tailored to the coalition of working-class Americans who put Trump over the top in rust belt states like Ohio in 2016. And he’s not bashful about that.

TRUMP WASN’T ON THE BALLOT BUT WAS A BIG WINNER WITH VANCE’S OHIO GOP SENATE NOMINATION VICTORY

“A lot of voters who voted for Trump who are going to come and vote for me because we’re talking about China, we’re talking about manufacturing, we’re talking about rebuilding the country,” Ryan said. “This isn’t about punishing businesses or having all these unnecessary culture wars. It’s about economics, jobs, freedom, economic freedom, more money in peoples’ pockets.”

On many specific issues, Ryan is still closer to Democrats than Republicans, even if his rhetoric takes on a very different tone than “Squad” members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Asked about inflation Wednesday, Ryan acknowledged that “people are hurting right now.” He said the best approach to the problem is “a tax cut for working people to put more money in their pockets to help them absorb” price increases. Republicans are pushing for lower government spending to stem inflation.

On the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked to Politico this week indicating the justices may overturn Roe v. Wade, Ryan said abortion is “an issue of freedom” and that it’s “a foundational value in our country that the government shouldn’t be involved in these kinds of things.” He called some GOP positions on abortion “extreme.”

VANCE URGES PARTY UNITY AFTER CONTENTIOUS REPUBLICAN PRIMARY BATTLE

But on other issues, Ryan is certainly not in lockstep with the White House. Immigration is one of those. The White House is still set to roll back the Title 42 border policy that makes it easier to quickly deport migrants — a move Ryan’s called “wrong and reckless.”

“We need a strong border,” he told Fox News Wednesday. “There’s eight billion people in the world… a lot of them want to live in the United States, but they all can’t.”

“We certainly shouldn’t be ripping parents from their kids. And we should certainly be a kind-hearted enough country to accept people running from murder or gangs that are going to push peoples’ kids in the sex trade,” Ryan added. “But you’ve got to know who’s in your country. I think that’s a basic American value that we have.”

MAY MADNESS: PRIMARY SEASON IGNITES IN EARNEST

Ryan is set to face GOP nominee JD Vance in the November general election. Vance Tuesday garnered a plurality of more than 30% in the crowded, combustible Republican primary just weeks after polling in the single-digits.

Trump’s endorsement of Vance appears to be what powered him to such a remarkable comeback in the state the former president won twice. The former president when he backed Vance last month said he was “the most qualified and ready to win.”

But Ryan Wednesday skewered Vance for needing Trump’s endorsement, as his campaign is already accusing Vance of being out of touch with Ohio in a new ad.

“He’s not a very good candidate and Trump obviously propped him up enough to limp over the finish line,” Ryan said.

“JD Vance has said that America’s a joke, and I think America’s the greatest country in the entire planet,” Ryan added. “I think there’s going to be a really distinct contrast here.”