Did former President Donald Trump’s rally at Youngstown’s Covelli Centre give a boost to the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican J.D. Vance?
Trump criticized U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee for the seat, during the event, and had good things to say about Vance. Still, it’s uncertain how that will impact the Senate campaign, though the former president remains popular in Ohio.
That’s because many of those at Saturday’s rally came to hear and see Trump.
The event was designed to support Vance and, to a lesser extent, other Republicans on the Nov. 8 ballot. But Trump’s speech was more focused on himself.
Trump talked about the 2020 election being stolen from him and criticized how President Joe Biden is running the country.
Trump praised Vance, calling him “a former Marine, highly respected, a Yale-educated lawyer and a brilliant mind who will make Ohio proud.”
But seconds before that, Trump made a derogatory remark about Vance sucking up to gain the former president’s support.
Some people understand Trump’s sense of humor, and it’s certainly not the first time he’s made remarks like this.
During the same speech, Trump commented on the weight loss of Geno DiFabio, a Mahoning County commissioner candidate, adding: “I wouldn’t say he’s exactly small, but that’s a lot of weight. You look great.”
In comparison, Ryan said in April of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “He’s my future boss so I gotta suck up a little bit here.” It was followed by laughs because, like Trump, Ryan was joking.
A couple of minutes after Trump’s sucking up comment, he said of Vance: “This is a great person who I’ve really gotten to know. Yeah, he said some bad things about me, but that was before he knew me, and then he fell in love. Remember I said that about Kim Jong-un? He fell in love. And they said, ‘Oh, Trump is saying he fell in love.’ Actually, he did if you want to know the truth. J.D., please come up and say a few words. J.D. Vance.”
Trump seems to be unable to forget Vance’s criticism of him during the 2016 presidential campaign — even though Vance repeatedly has said he was wrong about the former president — and then made some sort of comparison to the love shared for him by Vance and the North Korean dictator.
After all that, Vance, who had spoken for about 10 minutes earlier in the evening, was given an opportunity by Trump to talk again.
Vance said: “Are we having a good time? Is it great to have the president back in Ohio? Look, here’s the thing about this crazy, lying fraud Tim Ryan. His whole attack against me is that I’m out of the state. I’m from California. Even though the reason I left the state when I was 18 years old was to enlist in the United States Marine Corps and go and serve my country. But, the president may not even know this, Tim Ryan has not one — but two — books on yoga and meditation. Tim Ryan has called to ban gas-powered cars and Tim Ryan has voted for the Green New Deal. Who’s from California, Tim? It sounds like you are.”
There hasn’t been a House vote on the Green New Deal. Previously, Ryan said he supported “a Green New Deal” and that “we need to go big on a Green New Deal,” but he said he doesn’t favor the specific one that stalled in Congress.
The Green New Deal has become a catch-all term by Republicans to criticize Democratic environmental policies including the Inflation Reduction Act that Biden called “the biggest step forward on climate ever.”
There are a few items in the initial Green New Deal proposal — such as addressing climate change and supporting renewable energies — for which Ryan has voted for.
Numerous polls show a very close race between Ryan and Vance for the Senate seat.
Despite Democrats pointing to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s success, Ohio is a state that clearly leans Republican.
That puts Ryan at a disadvantage though even his critics must admit he’s run a strong campaign.
Every little edge is needed.
I’m just uncertain that a rally with Trump in September is going to sway the former president’s supporters toward Vance.
Skolnick covers politics for The Vindicator and the Tribune Chronicle.