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Senate race gets more heated

David Skolnick

The final U.S. Senate debate between Republican J.D. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan was far more hostile than the first one.

Ryan of Howland, a 10-term U.S. House member, and Vance, a venture capitalist and author, were aggressive in criticisms of the other during Monday’s debate in Youngstown on a variety of topics including blind loyalty to the leadership of their political parties, abortion, the Jan. 6 commission, guns and particularly immigration.

When a question was asked about the “great replacement theory,” which contends whites are systematically being replaced by minorities as part of a liberal elite conspiracy, they had a very heated exchange.

Ryan said Vance “agrees” with the racist theory and is “running around” with people like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, two Republicans supporting him, who talk about it.

“They want to stoke this racial violence,” Ryan said.

That drew an angry response from Vance. He said his three biracial children — his wife is of Indian descent — “get attacked by scumbags online and in person because (Ryan is) so desperate for political power, you’ll accuse me” of “engaging in racism.”

Vance said wanting a secure border is not close to being the same as supporting the great replacement theory and that Ryan is “so desperate that you’ll slander me and slander my family. It’s disgraceful.”

It didn’t end there.

Ryan said: “I think I struck a nerve with this guy.”

Vance answered that when Ryan talks about his family, “You absolutely struck a nerve.”

Ryan didn’t back down and said Vance doesn’t “want to talk about the fact that you’re with these extremists” and it’s a dangerous association, pointing to a white man accused in a mass shooting of African-Americans in Buffalo, N.Y., who wrote about his belief in the conspiracy theory.

Vance also didn’t back down, saying, “It’s disgusting and I’ve never endorsed it. It’s such an unbelievable accusation, Tim. To believe in a border, Tim Ryan thinks I’ve endorsed the great replacement theory.”

After the debate, I asked Ryan more about this.

Ryan said Vance “talks about it all the time. I worry about like what happened in Buffalo. To me, that’s scary. It’s who he runs around with.”

He added of Vance: “He’s just not a middle-of-the-road guy” and is “an extremist.”

Also after the debate ended, Vance said people he associates with don’t have “racist views. People who have been accused of racist views are very often, like me, people who just believe in a strong border, but have been accused by the media or by their Democratic opponents of having racist views.”

He added: “This is particularly personal to me because I guarantee it, I know exactly what’s going to happen is the amount of emails and text messages making fun of and sending derogatory comments to my five, two and nine-month old child, they’re going to explode because what happens is the trolls on the internet, they get triggered by the great replacement stuff. They then go and do research on my family. They then go and attack my children.”

Both camps declared victory after the debate to no one’s surprise.

“Once again, J.D. wiped the floor with Tim Ryan in (Monday’s) debate,” said Jordan Wiggins, Vance’s campaign manager. “J.D. came to Tim Ryan’s hometown and spoke directly with the Ohioans Tim Ryan has failed during his 20 years in Congress.”

Dave Chase, Ryan’s campaign manager, said: “Tim Ryan showed exactly how he will continue to fight like hell for Ohio workers in the U.S. Senate while San Fran phony J.D. Vance pushed lies and unhinged conspiracy theories.”

That was the last debate scheduled between Ryan and Vance.

Most polls show a statistical tie between the two candidates and this is, by far, the most expensive and hotly contested statewide race in Ohio.

They’re both campaigning across the state.

COMING SUNDAY

I strongly urge those wanting to learn more about where Vance and Ryan stand on the issues to pick up a copy of Sunday’s newspaper.

We have exclusive interviews with both candidates.

We asked Ryan and Vance the same 10 questions and you can read their unfiltered responses. What’s unique is the questions and answers are all about key issues that matter to Ohio voters.

dskolnick@vindy.com

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