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Vance rips Ryan at rally in Valley

1,500 watch Senate hopeful, DeSantis bash Dems

Staff photo / Allie Vugrincic... J.D. Vance, left, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bid farewell to supporters at the end of the Turning Point Action rally, during which they both spoke, Friday night at the Liberty Metroplex Expo Center.

LIBERTY — J.D. Vance, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, criticized Tim Ryan, his Democratic opponent, for not enforcing illegal migration at the southern border saying it’s led to the influx of drugs that are killing people.

President “Joe Biden and Tim Ryan have turned the southern border into the world’s capital of drug trafficking,” Vance said Friday at a rally at the Metroplex Expo Center in Liberty.

Vance also blamed Ryan of Howland, a 10-term congressman, for supporting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for certain people to keep their jobs.

“Joe Biden and Tim Ryan said that in order to work, in order to make a living, in order to put bread on the dinner table of your children, you had to get Big Pharma’s vaccine,” Vance said to boos. “Now, ladies and gentleman, that was disgusting. … I don’t care what your politics, I don’t care what your issues, nobody should have to put something in their body on a condition of providing” for their families.

Vance said the Senate election is “about this fundamental question: will we continue to be a state that provides opportunities for patriotic Americans or will we continue to go down the path of Joe Biden and Tim Ryan of failure, of loss of opportunity and loss of what makes this country great.”

Campaigning with Vance — and who the Senate candidate said was the “main event” of the rally — was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, considered a leading potential 2024 presidential candidate.

DeSantis spent most of his speech touting what he’s done as governor and only mentioned Vance a few times.

DeSantis talked about the southern border problems, saying under Biden’s presidency a massive number of people are illegally crossing it, bringing with them fentanyl, a drug that is now the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that was the leading cause of death among that age group in March.

“That issue alone in your Senate race between the Democrat and J.D. Vance is as clear as day,” DeSantis said. “You have an open-border, Joe Biden-supporting Democrat vs. somebody that’s going to be serious about this problem.”

DeSantis also said Vance will be tough on China.

DeSantis spent a lot of time speaking on conservative talking points including not requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or restrictions, supporting the police, supposed election fraud and critical race theory in elementary schools.

“There may not be any issue where Florida has led with more purpose and conviction than on the issue and we’ve drawn a very clear line in the sand, our school system should be about educating kids, not indoctrinating kids,” he said.

Event organizers said about 1,500 people attended the rally Friday.

Polls show a close race between Ryan and Vance in a Republican-controlled state.

Ryan has raised significantly more money for his campaign than Vance.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super political action committee aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is buying $28 million of television and radio commercials to prop up Vance’s campaign. The ads will start running Sept. 6. It is the third largest buy for the super PAC in this election cycle trailing only the Georgia and Pennsylvania U.S. Senate races.

Izzi Levy, a Ryan campaign spokeswoman, said Vance is “leaning on out-of-state allies like Ron DeSantis and Mitch McConnell to try to save face and distract voters from his disgraceful actions. Vance should stop bringing people into Ohio to do his dirty work. Every time he does, he just reminds voters that he’s an out-of-touch phony who already sold out Ohioans once for his own gain and would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Vance relied heavily on a different super PAC and an endorsement from former President Donald Trump to win the Republican primary in May.

The rally was a sort of homecoming for DeSantis, whose parents used to live in Mahoning County.

His maternal grandfather, Phil Rogers, was Mahoning County Republican Party chairman in the late 1960s and early 1970s and was an administrator at Youngstown State University.

A number of his relatives still live in the area, including his uncle, the Rev. Philip Rogers, pastor at Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers. He was at Friday’s rally along with DeSantis’ mother and an aunt.

Friday’s event was planned by Turning Point Action, a politically conservative organization that also put together a DeSantis event earlier in the day in Pittsburgh and in Phoenix, Ariz., last Sunday — all for Republican statewide candidates.

Turning Point initially announced on Aug. 8 incorrect locations for all three events as well as one in New Mexico that was canceled.

Turning Point garnered national attention for Friday’s rally in Liberty for restrictions it placed on journalists covering the event. But there didn’t appear to be any issues with the media at the rally. Event organizers were cooperative with the media, bringing photographers to the front of the room to get closer to the speakers.

dskolnick@vindy.com

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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