Ryan Says Trump ‘Throws Gas on the Fire’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan today called Donald Trump “ a divider, not a uniter” who “throws gas on the fire” to stoke voter anger to his political advantage.

Ryan’s comments came during an interview in Lakewood where MSNBC was broadcasting from a café as part of its coverage of the Ohio Primary next Tuesday.

The Mahoning Valley Democrat, who has campaigned across the country for Hillary Clinton, was asked to comment on last night’s events in Chicago where thousands of protesters assembled inside and outside Trump’s rally site at the University of Illinois campus. Citing public safety concerns, the Trump campaign called off the rally 30 minutes after it was scheduled to begin, which led to physical scuffles between the billionaire’s supporters and opponents.

“I think we could all see this coming, slowly escalating, slowly building,” Ryan said. “When you start pitting us versus them,” as Trump’s campaign messages have done from the start, strong reactions follow.

“If someone is insulting you in public who’s running for public office, demeaning you, insulting you, wanting you to be run out of the country … and then you don’t want them to protest?” he said. “They have First Amendment rights, too. … Preying on people is not political leadership.”

Trump is not used to people standing up to him, Ryan said. “He doesn’t have people around him who tell him what he doesn’t want to hear, and he hasn’t for the last 60 years,” the congressman added.

Asked how Ohio Republicans will react to the disruptions in Chicago, and those earlier yesterday at a rally in St. Louis where protesters were forcibly ejected from Trump’s rally at the candidate’s orders, Ryan said, “The general sensibility of Ohio people is a moderate voice, a moderate tone or approach. We don’t like destabilizing political and economic environments. People here are kind-hearted.”

Those Republicans leaning toward voting for Trump rather than Gov. John Kasich are now likely to “hesitate,” and ask themselves, “Do we really want somebody who’s going to make matters worse?” he said.

Trump’s opponents – Kasich and Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz – have blamed the protesters for last night’s disruptions at this event but also cited Trump’s sharp rhetoric as precipitating the situation. This morning Rubio told MSNBC is is becoming much harder for him to support Trump should he become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

Kasich said today that it is ow “extremely difficult” for him to support Trump as the nominee. According to Bloomberg News, which covered Kasich’s press conference in the Cincinnati area, Kasich said Trump has fueled “a toxic environment” that’s led to violence at his events.

“You don’t get down in the mud and wrestle,” he said. “If our rhetoric is negative, our rhetoric is divisive, we will not solve these problems that the American people expect us to fix.”

Meanwhile, in Ohio’s Democratic presidential primary, Clinton is leading U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the polls but the race is closer than it appears, Ryan said.

At 7:30 tonight, Clinton is schedule to appear for a rally at M7 Technologies, 1019 Ohio Works Drive.

In crisscrossing the Buckeye State, Clinton and former President Bill Clinton have been joined by a host of high-profile surrogates including former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., and retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly.

Tonight in Youngstown, Clinton will call for higher standards to ensure that U.S. automakers don’t face unfair competition due to preferences for overseas automakers whose cars are largely built with parts made in countries like China, according to a Clinton aide.

Specifically, Clinton will voice her opposition to weak “rules of origin” that permit cars mad with cheap materials from China and other countries to claim the benefits of being “made in America” and eligible for preferences under trade deals.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.