While calling for bipartisanship and touting that he is “one of the most bipartisan members of Congress,” Ohio Democratic Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Ryan also implored Democrats to “kill and confront” the “extremist” Republican movement in a Sept. 13 MSNBC interview.
According to multiple polls, Ryan and Donald Trump-endorsed Republican J.D. Vance are embroiled in a tight race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
Though voting records show that Ryan has voted with President Joe Biden 100 percent of the time, the 10-term Congressman is running as a populist and hopes to attract crossover voters in a state Trump won by eight points in 2016 and 2020.
“I’m one of the most bipartisan members of Congress. The last two congresses I have been in the top 10 percent of most bipartisan. I want to work across the aisle,” Ryan told MSNBC.
“Democrats aren’t right on everything,” Ryan explained, adding that there are some Republicans he is not interested in working with to fix “broken systems” and move away from the current “age of stupidity.”
“Some of those answers will come from Republicans, not the extremists that we’re dealing with every single day,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to kill and confront that movement.”
It’s important to work with “normal, mainstream Republicans,” Ryan added.
A USA Today/Ohio-Suffolk University poll published earlier this week showed that 47 percent of voters in Ohio would cast their ballot for Ryan if the election were held today, while 46 percent said they would vote for Vance.
Six percent were undecided in a survey with a 4.4 percent margin of error.
Ryan has distanced himself from Biden in all but one visit to Ohio–an Intel Corp. groundbreaking last week–but his comments on MSNBC reflect Biden’s onslaught against MAGA Republicans and Trump supporters.
During a recent appearance at a Democratic fundraiser rally in Maryland, Biden told a sparse audience, “What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy. It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the… I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”
At the same event, Biden later said that he respects “conservative Republicans” but not “these MAGA Republicans.”
Biden has started traveling the country campaigning for Democratic candidates, including Ryan. An I&I/TIPP poll of 1,277 voters released on Sept. 12 indicated that 73 percent of Democrats believe the president’s comments about Trump supporters were divisive.
Only 50 percent of Republican respondents think that Biden’s remarks drove Americans even farther apart, the poll shows.
Ryan is peppering the Ohio TV airwaves with ads presenting him as a candidate who is appealing to Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. Vance continues to point out Ryan’s voting record.
“If you actually look at where he comes down on issues, it’s totally disingenuous,” Vance recently told reporters. “In his TV commercials, he says he believes things that his own voting record proves he doesn’t believe in.
“The Tim Ryan I’m worried about is not the Tim Ryan of his well-produced TV commercials. It’s the Tim Ryan who has spent 20 years in Washington and always votes with [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and Biden.”
Earlier this month, Ryan suggested to Youngstown’s WFMJ-TV that Biden should not run for president in 2024, adding that his “hunch is that we need new leadership across the board— Democrats, Republicans.”
“I think it’s time for a generational move for new leaders on both sides,” Ryan added. “I think the environment politically across the country is poisonous and, you know, people … want some change and I think it’s important for us in both parties.”
Last month, Ryan criticized Biden’s $500 billion student loan forgiveness plan. In 2021, Ryan said that eliminating student loan debt is “great for people who have those student loans and families who have those student loans, including mine.”
Vance told Fox News Digital that Ryan “flip-flops” in a matter of hours and tries to move away from positions he held in previous years.
“I feel like each time I get out of an event, Tim Ryan’s tune has changed,” Vance said. “He’s trying to persuade people that he’s a moderate–or even a conservative Democrat–when his voting record is that he’s a far-left guy. He always bends the knee to Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi.”
Vance’s first post-Labor Day TV ad emphasizes his childhood in Middletown, located between Cincinnati and Dayton, the Democrats’ intent to defund the police, and Ryan’s rhetoric about the American criminal justice system.
The ad includes a clip of Ryan saying at a 2019 town hall that “The current criminal justice system is racist. I believe in my heart that it’s the new Jim Crow.”
Vance is endorsed by the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 23,000 law enforcement officers.
Vance is scheduled to join Trump at a Save America Rally on Sept. 17 in Youngstown, which is where Ryan lives.