Trump, Vance Blast Ryan Before 5,500 at Covelli Centre

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Former President Donald Trump and Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance took aim at U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan on topics ranging from support for police to vehicle electrification during a rally Saturday at the Covelli Centre.

Trump spoke for about an hour and 40 minutes, roughly 10 times as long as Vance, who is running against Ryan for the seat being vacated by Republican Rob Portman. He spoke on behalf of Vance, who he endorsed in the Ohio primary, as well as other GOP candidates in Ohio, and he teased a 2024 bid for the presidency. WATCH VIDEO

Approximately 5,500 people turned out for the rally, according to visual estimates of the crowd, short of the arena’s maximum occupancy of 7,000. Several hundred people were seated on the arena floor in front of the stage erected at the building’s east end. Doors opened around 2 p.m., with speakers not getting under way until around 4:40 p.m. Trump did not take the stage until 7:40 p.m., nearly two hours after Vance spoke.

Trump characterized Ryan, D-13 Ohio, as a “militant left-winger” who is “pretending to be a moderate.” In commercials, Ryan touts policies he agreed with Trump on but only voted with him 16% of the time, the former president said.

“I was always fighting him. I never liked that guy very much, and I won his area by a lot,” Trump said. He criticized Ryan for supporting efforts to defund law enforcement, backing New York U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez’s “Green New Deal” and voting for taxpayer funding for late-term abortions,

“There are two Tim Ryans out there. There’s a DC Tim who voted 100% of the time with Joe Biden. There’s Campaign Tim who pretends he’s a moderate,” said Vance, a venture capitalist and author. 

Ryan, speaking to reporters the day before the rally, said Vance, Trump and other Republicans are trying “turn me into somebody that I’m not. That’s the only way they can win here. But I think people are on to it.” 

Vance accused Ryan of saying he doesn’t support the defund-the-police movement in commercials while backing stripping officers of qualified immunity.

“He supported the people who are rioting and looting and burning American cities,” he continued. If that represents supporting law enforcement, “police don’t need any enemies.

“And Tim Ryan, that’s exactly what you are to America’s cops – you’re an enemy. You fought against them, not for them,” Vance said.

Trump and Vance also criticized Ryan for his support of efforts to promote electric vehicles claimed the Mahoning Valley congressman wants to ban gas-powered automobiles.

“Is that going to benefit Youngstown auto workers? Of course, it’s not,” nor will it benefit consumers, Vance said. Republicans believe motorists “should be able to drive whatever the hell car you want to because this is America.”

“Ryan called for completely abolishing gas-powered automobiles on the road. That’s another beauty,” Trump said. He said there isn’t sufficient electricity to power EVs now. They cost too much and batteries are made in China with materials only available there.

Ryan, who a representative said does not support a ban of gas-powered vehicles, has supported electric vehicle initiatives including the efforts to promote the EV industry in the Mahoning Valley.

The initiative – branded as “Voltage Valley” – includes development of an EV pickup truck manufacturer in the former GM plant in Lordstown – which Trump claimed credit for and touted during a White House visit by Lordstown Motors executives in 2020. It also includes the Ultium Cells plant now operating in Lordstown, a joint venture by GM and South Korea’s LG Chem to manufacture EV batteries.

Trump praised Vance as “a former Marine, highly respected, a Yale-educated lawyer and a brilliant mind who will make Ohio proud.” He took issue with a story in the “failing” New York Times that questioned whether Vance wanted his support and pointed to a poll showing his own strength in Ohio.

“JD is kissing my ass – he wants my support. I’m 18 points up,” Trump said. 

Trump, as he has done at other rallies, hinted at a potential run for the presidency in 2024.

“The [2020] election was rigged and stolen, and now our country is being destroyed. I ran twice, I won twice and did much better the second time,” he said. “And now, after what happened and watching out country go to hell, we may have to do it again. … Stay tuned everybody.”

Throughout the program, Trump and other speakers emphasized the importance of Republicans taking control of both houses of Congress. They criticized the Biden administration and Democrats on an array of issues including border security, inflation, education, energy independence, gender, the seizing of government documents from Trump’s Florida home, the decision to offer student loan forgiveness to many borrowers and crime in American cities.

Speakers included U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, and Jim Jordan, R-4 Ohio, who are seeking reelection; U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-14 Georgia, a prominent Trump ally; and GOP congressional candidates seeking to unseat Democratic incumbents.     

The senate race is “the most important race” in Ohio, Jordan said,

“It seems like every time America gives Democrats a chance, we [Republicans] come in behind them and fix all the stuff they mess up,” Johnson said. “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer would screw up a one-car parade. They have no real-life experience except in politics.”

Johnson called on the audience to unite to take back the House and the Senate, and send JD Vance to Washington

“The future is yours, Ohio. Here’s what got to do. You have a job. You have to flood the polls. Nov 8. Vote for every single Republican on your ballot, up and down the ballot,” Greene said. “Don’t allow the Democrats to destroy the greatest country on Earth.”

Also in attendance was entrepreneur Mike Lindell, founder of My Pillow Inc. Lindell did not speak during the rally but posed for photographs with supporters.

In response to the rally, Ryan spokesman Jordan Fuja issued a statement.

“After months of hiding from Ohioans and campaigning in places like Nantucket and Miami, it’s no surprise that San Francisco fraud J.D. Vance is using one of his rare public appearances in Ohio to lie about Tim’s record of fighting like hell for what’s best for Ohio,” Fuja said. “While Tim was working across the aisle to bring millions of dollars and thousands of jobs back home, J.D. is relying on the support of out-of-state allies to distract from his extreme and deeply unpopular positions.”

In her statement, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, Elizabeth Walters, played off the Ryan campaign’s criticism about the rally taking place the same time as the Ohio State-University of Toledo football game.

“Did anyone even watch that?” she said of the rally.

VIDEO: Trump, Vance at Youngstown Rally

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.