All Eyes on Donald Trump’s Speech Today at YSU
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Today is Allen Banner’s birthday and the co-chair of Trumbull County’s Trump for President campaign committee will celebrate by riding in the caravan that takes the Republican Party nominee from the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport to Youngstown State University.
“I’m going to have to make sure somebody in the caravan knows it’s my birthday and maybe he’ll come wish me happy birthday!” he laughs.
Banner received an early birthday present from Donald J. Trump June 28 when the real estate mogul spoke in St. Clairsville and signed his “Make America Great Again” baseball cap.
Retired from the Trumbull County Board of Elections, he drove the Trump float during parades in Boardman and McDonald while national networks interviewed people along the routes about the presidential campaign.
Reporters from news organizations in Japan and Great Britain have interviewed Banner and people he encounters chime in with support just about everywhere he goes. It’s quite a change, he says, from when he would “be real quiet about saying I’m a Republican. Now when I go into a bar, I hear, ‘Trump’s my man.’ It happens a lot and it still surprises me when it does.”
Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, is no longer surprised about the depth of Trump’s support in the Mahoning Valley or when he gets a call from an international news organization. Nor is he surprised that Trump selected a small audience at YSU to deliver what the campaign calls a major speech on foreign policy and terrorism.
“I’ve been told they wanted something smaller, more personal so Trump could deliver a position paper or policy statement,” Munroe says.
“There have been so many distractions in this campaign, and one of the criticisms of Trump is that he has not had the opportunity to focus on more substantial issues. By choosing a smaller venue — not a campaign rally — he’s going to be changing the focus back to the issues the American people need to hear. And the fact that he’s doing it here in Youngstown is impressive. What’s more important than talking about the national security of this country?”
Trump is scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. before 300 invited guests at the Chestnut Room in Kilcawley Center. He’ll be accompanied by vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana. Fox News reports the presidential candidate will outline “foreign policy realism” and a new immigration policy.
Tickets were distributed by party leaders in the six-county region where Trump rolled up huge numbers in the Republican primary, topping the statewide winner, Gov. John Kasich. Among those who will be attending today’s event are GOP officeholders and candidates, volunteers and donors.
Munroe says he’s been “been assured that Trump will be back for a more traditional large rally. I have no doubt that if he wanted to, he could fill Covelli Centre and Beeghly Center at the same time. The interest in Trump’s candidacy is sky high and I can attest to that by the volume of phone calls from people who want access to this event.”
Banner, the Trumbull Trump campaign co-chair, sees Trump winning much more than the “38% of the vote” that Republican presidential candidates historically need in Trumbull County to carry the state. Still, he worries the GOP still has “a lot of ground to make up. We’ve got to get Kasich voters to come over and stay with us,” he says.
Likewise, Tracey Winbush, vice chairman of the Mahoning County GOP, says support for Trump “depends what circles you’re in. If you’re part of the governor’s circle, they are not supporting or working for Trump – they’re sitting it out. Then there are people who are going to hold their noses and vote for him.”
At one point, Winbush put herself in that category, willing to vote to Trump but not campaign for him. Today she’s all in. “I can’t let Hillary Clinton get in,” she says. “If I don’t work for Trump, then I’m part of the problem not the solution.”
With Democrats in counties from Ashtabula south to the Kentucky border crossing over in huge numbers for Trump, political scientists say there is no doubt that Ohio’s political calculation will change substantially in November.
“In looking at the numbers in 1980 and 1984, when Ronald Reagan was elected, Republicans did not win Mahoning County but crossed 40%,” says Paul Sracic, chair of YSU’s department of Department of Politics and International Relations. “That’s the only time, as far back as I’ve looked, that they held the Democrats below 60% and it looks like that’s a near certainty this year. The question is what happens in the suburbs of Franklin County where traditional conservatives live. Do they vote for Hillary Clinton or do they stay home?”
Ohio, Ohio, Ohio: The battleground state refrain is one that even disinterested residents can recite. By the end of today, it will again be political story of the day on cable and broadcast news but with this angle: Did Trump stay on script?
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