CLEVELAND — July is normally a quiet time in politics. Not this year; not with a seat in the U.S. Senate up for grabs. Tim Ryan met with veterans in Brooklyn Heights Friday, the last stop on a three-day, nine-city tour of the state. They are voters that he'll need in his match-up with Republican J.D. Vance, who has also been crisscrossing the state as part of a law enforcement tour.
An issue where there is a clear divide between the two? Abortion.
"Oh clearly," said Ryan. "Largest governmental overreach in the history of our lifetime, violating the personal liberties and individual freedom of women in this country, and an extreme position by JD Vance that even if you're raped or there's incest he wants you to be forced by the government to have, bring the baby to term if you're raped, have a rapist's baby. I mean that just makes no sense."
A Political Action Committee is now running ads against Vance highlighting that stance. Vance tells me he takes issue with it and supports certain exceptions.
"I support a life of the mother exception," Vance said. "But I'll say as much as they're trying to paint me as a radical and I am pro-life, I don't hide from that fact, but as much as they're trying to paint me as a radical, Tim Ryan has defended abortion up to 40 weeks of gestation."
Ryan says that's only in the rare event of severe complications late in the pregnancy. Where the two walk a similar path is in appealing to working-class voters who have been hurt by U.S. trade policies — union workers who were once loyal Democrats that have shifted Republican since 2016. They are voters Ryan is trying to win back, running an ad where he speaks of opposing President Obama's trade policies that threatened jobs while voting with President Trump on trade.
"I think the interesting strategic thing he is trying to do," said Vance, "is runaway from the Biden-Harris agenda, position himself as a moderate or even as a conservative in his TV commercials, but at the end of the day, Ryan's record is the record. The policies that have failed the state of Ohio the last couple of years are policies he supported full-throatedly."
Vance said that's why Ryan was absent from President Biden's visit this week to Cleveland. Ryan said he had previously scheduled campaign events in Southern Ohio at the time and he runs from no one.
"I'm the face of this campaign," said Ryan. "They can try to tie me to whomever they want, the people of Ohio know I've taken on Joe Biden, I've taken on Nancy Pelosi, I've taken on Bernie Sanders, I've taken on Republicans, I've agreed with Trump on trade. That's just my record; all they have to do is look at it. And he needs to run against me, not Joe Biden."