OHIO. (TNZT) — Donald Trump tried to thwart Democratic Senate candidate Tim Ryan’s attempt to win his supporters over at a Saturday rally in Ohio by telling the public that the Democrat is not a friend of the Trump movement, even if he “pretends he’s my policy friend.”
Trump’s performance in support of Republican Senate candidate JD Vance is the final stop on his tour to help the candidates he helped win controversial Republican primary. Trump has used his endorsement to help Senate candidates like Vance, Blake Masters in Arizona and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania get out of the crowded Republican fields. But these nominees have since struggled to get into the general election, ravaged by depleted campaign coffers and poor post-primary fundraising, forcing the former president to come to their aid once again.
As influential as Trump has been in the Republican primaries, his influence in the general election remains uncertain. But Republicans working to take back the Senate are now in a scenario where the candidates Trump helped nominate are now at the center of any hope of controlling the chamber by 2023.
To do that, Trump has set out. The former president headlined a meeting in Pennsylvania two weeks ago where Oz spoke and the former president praised the famous doctor, albeit briefly. Trump is slated to lead an event Friday in North Carolina with U.S. Representative Ted Budd, the state senate nominee who has the former president’s backing, and later in Michigan with a string of candidates he has supported. .
In Ohio, Ryan poses a stronger-than-expected challenge to Vance by moving away from certain Democratic policies and embracing aspects of Trump’s office. Ryan has placed ads criticizing his own party, suggesting that President Joe Biden should not run for re-election and — in recognition of Ohio’s recent shift to the right — emphasized the need for Democrats to win over Trump voters.
“I agreed with Trump on trade,” Ryan said in a television ad last summer. “I voted against outsourcing every time.”
Trump has clearly taken note of Ryan’s strategy – his meeting on Saturday was in Youngstown, the heart of Ryan’s congressional district.
“He looked at my poll numbers. I think he’s acting, JD, on an I love Donald Trump policy,” Trump said of Ryan, adding, “He doesn’t like me, and I don’t like him. He has terrible been.”
By gathering in Youngstown, Trump is entering the territory that Ryan has shaped. Raised in nearby Niles, Ohio, Ryan has represented the community throughout his political career, making it and the surrounding Mahoning County synonymous with his kind of union-supporting Democratic politics. But Mahoning is leaning towards Republicans after years of being a Democratic stronghold: Trump in 2020 was the first Republican presidential candidate to win the county since Richard Nixon in 1972.
“I won his territory by a lot,” Trump said, adding, “We won Ohio twice. … We won it in two landslides and now we have to give JD a landslide.”
One way the Ohio Democrats have tried to win over Trump voters is by using Vance as a fake and repeatedly noting that the now Trump-approved Senate candidate criticized the former president.
“Yeah, he said some bad things about me,” Trump said with a smile, acknowledging Vance’s previous criticisms. “But that was before he knew me. And then he fell in love.’
Trump’s comments were littered with his signature grievance policy. The former president said, “for six consecutive years I have been harassed, investigated, vilified, vilified and persecuted” like no president in history, adding that people are “not only coming after me, they are coming after you through me.”
His complaints weren’t just about Democrats, though. While bemoaning inflation, Trump said, “Mitch McConnell better play on the ball and put it in the Senate. He’s like a Democrat.”
And Trump also put the responsibility on Vance to stand up to the Republican Senate leader and “get him out of there.”
“Mitch McConnell is a disgrace and I hope you do something about it, JD,” said Trump, who put Vance in an awkward position as the Senate Leadership Fund, a group closely associated with McConnell, was forced to donate $28 million. to reserve in television advertising time in Ohio, an expense no Republican would have anticipated earlier in the pre-race cycle.
By the end of June, Ryan had raised $21.8 million in the 2022 cycle, compared to just $3.5 million for Vance. The Democrat entered the second half of the year with a 5-to-1 cash advantage over his GOP opponent.
And in Vance’s case, the money problems extend beyond his own fundraising.
To get through the primary, Vance needed the outside support of billionaire tech mogul Peter Thiel, who poured millions into a pro-Vance super PAC. The money Thiel spent to boost Vance even warmed up Trump to back the Republican candidate.
But once Vance emerged from the primaries, Thiel stopped spending his pro-Vance efforts, causing significant rifts between the PayPal co-founder and Republicans like McConnell, who has lobbied Thiel to spend more on campaigns. of the Senate.
Much of Trump’s speech focused more on his personal politics than Vance or others. Trump continued to tease a 2024 run — something he’s been doing for months.
“I’ve run twice, I’ve won twice,” Trump said, before adding that he “may have to do it again.”
The crowd erupted as Trump continued to lie about the 2020 election, a sign that election denial is still a major driver for the former president’s followers.
“Stay tuned, everyone. Stay tuned,” he added.
Trump was set to begin speaking at 7 p.m. ET, at the same time as the Ohio State Buckeyes got underway against the Toledo missiles less than 200 miles away in Columbus. Vance, who graduated from Ohio State, said he thought the rally would be over at 8:30 p.m. ET so people could leave and watch the second half. Trump began speaking at 7:44 PM ET and didn’t end until 9:25 PM ET — when the Ohio State game was well into the third quarter with Ohio State leading 49-21.
Trump acknowledged the Ohio State football game, saying, “There is a football game going on and it had no effect on this crowd.”
Democrats responded to the Trump rally by primarily dismissing it as less important than Ohio State’s game.
“I was too busy watching football, but I’m sure whatever San Francisco fake JD Vance and his foreign allies tried to talk about in a half-empty stadium, it would have left all the Ohioans in the loop tuning in.” at the Ohio State-Toledo game,” said Jordan Fuja, a spokeswoman for Ryan who was at the Ohio State game Saturday night.
The scene surrounding the event was like most other Trump rallies, where some of the former president’s most ardent acolytes walked around while his devoted supporters queued for hours to get in. Those acolytes included Mike Lindell, who said Tuesday that the FBI served him with a grand jury subpoena for the contents of his phone as part of an investigation into a security breach in Colorado’s election.
Trump did not mention Lindell from the podium.
CORRECTION: This story was updated to correct the name of the Republican outside group that invested in TV ad reservations to help Vance.
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