By Briana Dunn, Staff Writer
Ohio Senate candidates Republican J.D. Vance and Congressmember Tim Ryan (D-Youngstown) had their first debate in Cleveland on Monday, Oct. 10.
Ryan and Vance are vying for retiring Senator Rob Portman’s seat. Each candidate criticized their competition’s platform, with Vance saying Ryan’s 20 year political career as a congressmember has not produced any change while Ryan argued Vance is an extremist whose preferred policies represent only a sliver of the Republican Party.
“Tim Ryan went to Washington D.C. where he has been failing at his basic job for 20 years,” Vance said, referencing his enlistment in the military during the same year Ryan first entered Congress.
Main focuses of the debate included abortion, immigration and the economy — amongst Ryan’s notes about backing former president Donald Trump at times on trade, contrary to his party, and Vance’s rendition of Ryan as a creature of Washington comparative to his position as a political outsider.
During the debate, Vance blamed inflation on unrestricted federal spending, attributing Ryan to part of the issue.
“I believe we’ve gone in a fundamentally bad direction over the last couple of years,” Vance said.
“I think people deserve to go to the grocery store without completely breaking the bank. Tim Ryan has voted with these policies 100 percent of the time. Every single time he gets an opportunity to stand up for Ohioans, he chooses to bend the knee to his own party,” Vance continued.
Ryan dismissed Vance’s claims during their discussion about China, rather blaming inflation on outsourced labor and production.
“We need to cut taxes for working people,” Ryan said. “We have our supply chains in Asia. J.D. Vance invested in China and ships products and companies that ship products back. That’s why we can’t get out of this inflation problem.”
Abortion, the second highest determining issue for Ohioan voters at approximately 15.9%, is a dividing line between the two candidates.
“I support going back to Roe v. Wade. That was established law for 50 years and we didn’t have all the chaos that we’re having now,” Ryan, on his pro-choice stance, said. “We’ve got to have some moderation on this issue.”
Vance commented on his pro-life stance, responding to questions pertaining to Lindsey Graham’s 15 week abortion ban.
“Some minimum National Standard is totally fine with me,” Vance said.
“We are talking about five-month-old babies, fully formed babies who can feel pain. No civilized country in the world allows elective abortion that late in pregnancy. I don’t think the United States should be an exception,” Vance continued.
In addition, Ryan called Vance’s stances dangerous and a threat to America’s democracy, suggesting that most Americans were drained by the policies tabled by his constituents.
“You’re running around with Lindsey Graham, who wants a national abortion ban. You’re running around with Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is the absolute looniest politician in America,” Ryan said.
Ryan campaigned alone on the airwaves this summer and put substantial money towards portraying himself as a moderate, while Vance struggled to gain a strong lead in the race, which remains close according to publicly available polling.
However, both campaigns and their allied political groups sent at least 28 press releases over the course of the hour-long debate and following it, signifying the close nature of the race.