Politics

Hometown Crowd Hears from Presidential Candidate Ryan

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan emphasized the need for unity at the first rally of his nascent campaign for president.

About 500 people filled a block-long stretch of West Federal Street Saturday afternoon to hear Ryan, D-13 Ohio, two days after he announced on ABC’s “The View” that he would be seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

Dozens of elected officials, members of labor unions and other supporters flanked Ryan on the stage as the self-described “kid from Niles, Ohio” outlined his rationale for seeking the presidency.

“We have so much work to do. We have a broken system in our country that we’ve failed to fix because we’re divided,” he said. He shared the consequences of that division extending from the shuttering of the steel mils in the 1970s, when his father-in-law lost his job, to when his cousin called him 20 years ago to tell him that he had to unbolt the last piece of  machinery at his Delphi plant so it could be shipped to China, to the recent closing of the General Motors Lordstown Complex. 

The United States has been “a divided country for a long time, and that division has prevented us from being able to be the best that we can possibly be,” Ryan said. “If we’re not united, we’re not going to be able to fix these structural problems that we have in the United States.”

A divided county is a weak one, and there are politicians and leaders in America today “who want to divide us,” preventing Americans from coming together to address issues like the economy and health care, he warned.

“They want to put us in one box or the other You can’t be for business and for labor. You can’t be for border security and immigration reform. You can’t be for cities and rural America,” he said.  “I’m tired of having to choose. I want us to come together as a country. I want us to seize the future of this country.”

Ryan pledged to the audience that every day he would bring their needs and concerns with him into the Oval Office. “The competition today is fierce. We don’t need a superstar. We don’t need a savior. We need to come together, and we need grit and determination and the ability for us to work together for a better future,” he said.

“We are not going to let fear determine how we are going to move into the future in the United States anymore,” he added “We are not going to allow leaders to put us against each other.”

Several local and regional leaders spoke on Ryan’s half before he took the stage, including mayors Jamael Tito Brown of Youngstown, Doug Franklin of Warren and Dan Horrigan of Akron, as well as Rose Carter of Action Ohio and Herm Brewer, director of the Trumbull County Veterans Service Commission.

Carter praised Ryan for his role in helping to establish Eastern Gateway Community College and for his ongoing efforts to persuade General Motors to retool its idled Lordstown Complex for a new product.  

“Now is the time for you to bring our country together,” she said.

Herm Brewer, also the president of the National Association of County Service Officers, told of Ryan’s efforts on behalf of veterans.

Brewer, an Army veteran who was wounded in 2004 by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq, said he decided to help other veterans when he found how difficult it was to get help after he came home. He would call Ryan for assistance. “There wasn’t a door that they wouldn’t knock on for me to help a veteran. If the door didn’t open, they would knock that door down for us,” he recalled. 

Niles residents Ken and Rhonda Flanigan of Niles, who said they have known Ryan for years, were among those who turned out for the rally. Ken Flanigan said he was confident that Ryan would clear “the swamp” of the millionaires and billionaires who hold power in Washington.

Among those attending the rally was former boxing champion and entrepreneur Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. “Tim’s one of us,” he said. “He understands our needs, our wants.” He said he would support Ryan’s candidacy in any way he wants.

Ryan joked that he was going to hire Mancini as his secretary to sit outside the Oval Office. “You’re going to D.C.,” Ray. Bring the gloves,” he said.

Following the rally, Ryan told reporters he believes his message will resonate with voters because people are focused on the economy. “The stock market is high, unemployment is low but people are still finding it hard to make ends meet,” he said.  

After meeting with reporters, Ryan said he and his family were going to dinner before he headed to Washington for an appearance Sunday morning on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” Then he would travel to Iowa before returning to Washington, where we will address 3,000 members of the building trades before going to New Hampshire.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.