By DAVID SKOLNICK
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said during a CNN town hall that Congress needs to move forward with impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.
“If Donald Trump wasn’t president, if he was Tim Ryan or Matthew [the person who asked him the question] or an autoworker in Lordstown, Ohio, would you have prosecuted him?” said Ryan of Howland, D-13th. “The answer I got a couple of days ago [from special counsel Robert Mueller] was yes, he would have. So I do believe we need to move forward with the impeachment process, and let me tell you why.
“When you think that the president has committed crimes and I have read the Mueller report and I believe [Trump] has obstructed on multiple occasions, we have a responsibility. I don’t want to. I know what this is going to do to the country. I take no joy in this at all, but I have a duty and a responsibility. And that duty and responsibility has led me to think we have to do this.”
Ryan answered numerous questions Sunday at the CNN Center in Atlanta from Democrats and independents who are likely to vote in next year’s Democratic presidential primary.
After the event, Ryan texted The Vindicator that he’s “getting a super response from back home and around the country. Literally hundreds of text messages. Proud to get a chance to highlight the issues that we face back home.”
CNN anchor Poppy Harlow moderated Ryan’s hourlong event.
His town hall was sandwiched between similar events with two other presidential candidates: U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts before him and U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California.
In response to a person who questioned if he was focusing on “winning back the white working class” and what would he do about racial inequality, Ryan said: “I have made it a point because people do try to say Tim Ryan is a white Irish guy from Youngstown, I make it a point, this is not about the white working class. This is about white people, black people, brown people, gay people, straight people, men, women, North, South, urban, rural. This economy is not working for anybody, well, just the top 1 percent and much of the top 5-10 percent of the people in the country.”
He added: “So I think it’s critically important when I talk about electric vehicles and all of these other projects and growing the pie, I will have concrete plans on how to steer that investment into communities of color, into communities that have been left behind. A lot of people don’t know, but Youngstown, Ohio, is 50 percent African-American.”
Asked if he’d be comfortable with an all-white, all-male Democratic ticket, Ryan said, “No, absolutely not.”
He said, “Our ticket and the next president’s Cabinet must reflect the diversity of the country, and I’m committed to do that.”
Ryan also said China “is our No. 1 threat. We have a relationship, but they’re a threat. They want to take us out economically.”
He criticized Trump for not have “a big strategy” with China.
“He has a tactic that gets him on TV because he sends a tweet out, tariffs are on, tariffs are off, and the media runs with it all the time and it changes the subject and he can look tough. We’re getting our clock cleaned.”
On several occasions Sunday, Ryan brought up the idled General Motors facility in Lordstown.
Trump “made a lot of promises to the workers in Youngstown,” Ryan said. “I think it would be nice if he’s spending $20 to $30 billion helping farmers deal with a crisis, he could spend $1 billion helping General Motors open that factory back up in Youngstown, Ohio, and we can start providing electric cars and we’ll kick China’s butt that way instead of what he’s trying to do now.”
As one of the few Democratic presidential candidates from the Midwest, Ryan criticized the party as being “coastal” and forgetting those in the Midwest and South.
Referencing the GM plant in Lordstown again, Ryan said, “In many ways I believe I’m the only one in this campaign who deeply, deeply, deeply understands what those workers are going through.”
Before the town hall, Ryan told The Vindicator he hoped the event would help with “visibility, polling and fundraising.”
The first Democratic presidential debate will take place June 26 and 27 in Miami, and the second is July 30 and 31 in Detroit with the top 20 candidates participating – 10 candidates chosen for each day.
To qualify, a candidate needs to either have at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or have at least 65,000 unique donors with a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.
Ryan has met the polling threshold, but not the donor one.
So far, 20 candidates qualify. If that number should exceed 20, the next step is to give preference to candidates meeting both followed by highest polling average and then the most unique donors.
But the bar is raised higher for the third and fourth debates in September and October.
To qualify for those two, a candidate needs at least 2 percent support in four qualifying polls between June 28 and Aug. 28 and contributions from at least 130,000 unique donors with a minimum of 400 different donors in at least 20 states by Aug. 28.
Right now, Ryan wouldn’t qualify.