However Briefly, All Eyes Are on the Mahoning Valley

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Mahoning Valley again finds itself at the center of the political universe on the eve of an important election.

Today, two of the four remaining major candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump and Gov. John Kasich, seek to persuade voters of their candidacies by stopping here.

One of the two leading Democratic contenders, Hillary Clinton, was here Saturday night. The other, Bernie Sanders, is scheduled to be at the Covelli Centre this morning.  Overnight a line started forming and by 6 a.m. a few hundred were waiting to get inside.

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Trump, whose entry into the Republican race has dominated headlines since his announcement, has come under withering fire the last few days for comments that his critics argue incite violence at his campaign events. On Sunday he cancelled a rally in Florida, where polls show him with double-digit leads over Marco Rubio, so he could come to Winner Aviation at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport for an event scheduled at 6 p.m.

Trump’s visit will follow Kasich’s town hall meeting here at Brilex Industries on Andrews Avenue, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and include endorsements by YSU President Jim Tressel and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Last night Kasich was joined by Tressel at a rally outside the Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton, which is owned by the chairman of the Columbiana County Republican Party, David Johnson.

Meanwhile, about the time Kasich’s event is expected to end, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont will hold a rally a few blocks away at the Covelli Centre downtown, hoping to build on the momentum of his unexpected win in Michigan last Tuesday.

Sanders’ visit comes less than 48 hours after the long-presumed front-runner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, addressed 500 people at M7 Technologies in Youngstown then joined U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and his wife, Andrea, in stopping at O’Donold’s downtown to hoist a Guinness.

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“It’s going to be tough. We’re working really, really hard,” acknowledged Ryan, D-13 Ohio, the first member of Congress to endorse Clinton.

Kasich is considered a long-shot for the GOP nomination despite having what many analysts see as the strongest resume in the filed — twice elected governor of Ohio, service in the U.S. House of Representatives and careers in business and media. But no one reckoned with the entry and staying power of the reality show host and billionaire businessman who has outlasted a dozen rivals included early GOP presumed frontrunner, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Trump has won nine states and 460 delegates, more than a third of the 1,237 he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot. His success notwithstanding, GOP establishment leaders are concerned that his inflammatory speeches from the outset will lead to his defeat in November and pull the Republican nominees for House and Senate down with him.

Critics point to Trump’s insults of women he doesn’t like, his threat to build a wall along the Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration, his call to block Muslim immigration into the United States, even his mockery of a disabled reporter.

“Trump’s not fit to be president,” remarked U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, echoing sentiments of some conservative publications and GOP leaders that include the party’s 2012 standard bearer, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Someone who “stands up in front of thousands of people and plays to violence and plays to prejudice and calls out to people to take [opponents] out of the hall is not fit to be president,” Romney said.

Romney will campaign with Kasich today at events in North Canton and Westerville.

Since Saturday’s melee in Chicago, where Trump cancelled a rally after thousands of protesters showed up inside and outside the venue at the University of Illinois campus, Kasich and Rubio have indicated reluctance to back Trump as their party’s nominee.

“Tonight the seeds of division that Donald Trump has been sowing this whole campaign finally bore fruit, and it was ugly,” Kasich said Friday night. The next day, Kasich said it now would be “extremely difficult” for him support Trump.

Several party leaders back efforts to thwart Trump in states where the three remaining candidates can deny the 1,237 delegate votes needed. Should they succeed, the premise is a brokered convention in Cleveland would result and an alternative to Trump nominated.

Kasich acknowledges he needs to win Ohio, a winner-take-all-state, or his campaign is over Wednesday. Polls show him with a slight lead.

Ohio newspapers, including the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and Columbus Dispatch, have endorsed the Kasich in the Republican primary. On Saturday, former House Speaker John Boehner said he had voted for Kasich in the primary.

“He’s my friend,” said Boehner, as reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Clinton faces an unexpectedly strong challenge from Sanders, although she has an overwhelming lead in the delegate count.

Ryan credits Sanders with running “a great campaign” and talking about issues such as trade that resonate with voters.

“We’re cautiously optimistic but there’s a lot of work to do,” he said Saturday. “It’s a tough campaign. It’s a tough year. But we’re excited.”

Clinton and her surrogates — including her husband, former President Bill Clinton, were in several Ohio cites this weekend. “They’re really putting the full-court press on in Ohio and we’re going to fight for every vote,” Ryan said.

In Michigan, most polls showed Clinton with a double digit-lead, making her loss to Sanders all the more surprising. Internal polls showed the race to be much closer, Ryan said. Citing FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, he said, there was about an 8% drop off that went to try to stop Trump.

“It’s wild but last Tuesday we won the delegates,” Ryan said. “This is a delegate game. … We’re getting the delegates and we’re working hard to get more.”

Likewise, Brown, also on Clinton’s Ohio leadership team, is optimistic about her chances Tuesday here and statewide.

“People in the Valley are pretty sophisticated. They look at emotions and hear what people are saying, but they are going to see with Hillary that she has the most in-depth manufacturing plan,” Brown said. “I trust her on manufacturing. I trust her on trade.” On these issues and others, including energy, “I feel good about where she wants to take us.”

New York Times:
Ohio looms large is both presidential races on Tuesday

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.