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Trump's Toledo Rally May Signal Tone Of Campaign

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Ohio Public Radio
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President Trump is scheduled to appear in Toledo Thursday for the first campaign visit of this election year. And the location, timing and message of this rally could be a preview of his re-election strategy. Ohio Public Radio's  Karen Kasler has a preview.

Trump won Ohio by eight points in 2016, winning all but eight counties. Trump’s last Ohio visit was in September, when he told workers at a recycled paper plant in Wapakoneta that he won by fighting for Ohio jobs and Ohio workers.

“And that’s exactly what we’ve done – and right now you’ve got the lowest unemployment you’ve ever had, you have the most successful state that you’ve ever had.”

By the way, that wasn’t quite right. While it was in record low territory, the state’s unemployment rate was two-tenths of a point higher than it had been just a few months before.

Trump went to Toledo three times in 2016. His 17 visits to Ohio that year netted him the highest percentage of votes for a Republican presidential candidate since 1980 in 38 Ohio counties – most of them in Appalachia.

And while 2018 was a good year for Republicans in Ohio, Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown won re-election by taking Dayton and Montgomery County – which Trump had won. And Brown won back the far northeast and Youngstown area counties Trump took and regained ground Democrats lost in 2016 in the Toledo area.

Since he won the White House, Trump has traveled to Ohio 14 times – sometimes doing two events in a day. And Brown expects more of the same this year.

“He’s sort of a full time candidate through much of his presidency, so I assume he’ll be in Ohio a lot.”

Brown says while in Toledo, Trump should answer for what he calls a set of betrayals – no increase in the minimum wage, the overtime rule change, the appointment of federal judges who Brown says choose corporations over workers and not fully supporting Great Lakes cleanup efforts.

Ohio’s Republican Senator Rob Portman is often at Trump’s campaign events, and like every other Ohio Republican member of Congress and statewide elected official, he’s a co-chair of Trump’s re-election campaign.

“I think he’s been in Ohio a lot because he still views it as a really important state for his re-election.”

Portman says he hopes Trump will talk about the effect of the USMCA trade deal on manufacturing, auto and agriculture jobs, and about tax reform that Portman says has driven up economic growth and wages in Ohio. But he says with all that’s happening, he’ll likely stay in Washington and not attend the Toledo rally.

And all that’s happened could change whatever Trump’s message will be, though Republicans have said the economy will be their leading talking point. While several northwest Ohio counties have unemployment rates comparable to the rest of the state, Ottawa County has one of the highest rates. There’s a lot of farming in northwest Ohio, and many farmers report Trump’s tariffs have hurt them.

Ohio’s aging and less diverse demographics have led to debates over whether it will once again be a state that predicts how the nation will vote – a bellwether – or whether it still has an almost even split of voters from each party – a swing state.

But University of Dayton associate professor of political science Christopher Devine says Ohio will still be a popular place on the campaign trail. He notes 28 percent of all presidential campaign events in 2012 were in Ohio, and that number plummeted to about 13 percent of all campaign visits in 2016.

“I think you’re going to see fewer visits to Ohio maybe even than in 2016, but certainly than in previous years, but certainly with President Trump’s visit, this is showing that we’re not going to get ignored in 2020 either.”

But Devine says Trump likely considers Ohio part of his firewall in the Midwest, and also says he may have picked Toledo because he can reach part of Michigan as well – a state Trump won by a very slim margin.

The most recent statewide Quinnipiac poll was last summer, and showed Joe Biden was the only Democratic candidate who would beat Trump in Ohio. But that was more than five months ago.

 

 

 

The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
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