WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden just can’t leave Ohio — even though he dismissed him in last year’s election.
Democrats traveled to Cincinnati on Wednesday to advance their economic policies. This is his third presidency visit to Ohio, the only state he has visited multiple times.
Ohio was once an election prize that could decide who occupied the White House, but its embrace of Republicans has tightened over the past decade. The visit is a testament to Biden’s belief that going straight to the electorate will help bridge the thorny political divide.
“Half life is visible, and Joe Biden is visible,” said John Anzalon, Biden’s presidential campaign pollinator. “He’s going to be president for those who voted for him and those who voted against him.”
Ohio Republicans, for their part, see the president’s attention as an opportunity to make the case against the Democrats. The state faces a heated Senate election next year with the retirement of Republican Rob Portman, who helped negotiate a $973 billion infrastructure plan with Biden, who now faces an uncertain future in an equally divided Senate. Still working.
The president’s visit will take him near the perilously old Brent Spence Bridge—a chokepoint for trucks and emergency vehicles between Ohio and Kentucky that the previous two presidents had promised without success to replace. But Republicans are focusing more on the rise in shootings and crime in Cincinnati, which they blame on Democrats, though several factors, including the coronavirus pandemic.
“President Joe Biden will visit a great city plagued by devastating levels of violent crime due to the failed leadership of Democrat Mayor John Cranley,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchic. He said he believes Biden also “failed to protect Americans and our southern border.”
Violent crime, especially shootings and murders, is on the rise across the country. But overall, there have been far fewer crimes than there were 10 years ago. For example, Cincinnati saw a large number of shootings and record killings in 2020, according to city data, as the pandemic spread. With 49 murders as of July 10, compared to 53 during the same period last year, the murders are slightly lower this year.
Before a town hall in Cincinnati to be shown on CNN, Biden will visit a training center for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to discuss policies to create union jobs. The president can already say he has delivered results for the region, with $280 million in local relief funds for Cincinnati and $159 million for surrounding Hamilton County from his coronavirus aid package.
President’s time is one of the most valuable items of administration. With presidential visits to the Ohio cities of Columbus, Cleveland and now Cincinnati, the White House is betting that Biden’s policies are popular with independent voters and that voters will reward a president and party that tries to solve their problems. are.
Democratic victories have been few and far between Ohio’s cities. The state is a microcosm of the national challenge for a party whose voters congregate around large metro areas. Winning Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Akron isn’t enough to take away Republican gains in the state’s more rural counties. Former President Donald Trump may have energized Ohio voters, but the GOP’s track record of success predates that.
Republican strategist Michael Hartley said, “Ohio hasn’t exactly been going well for Dems over the past few cycles, but it’s deeper than just Trump.” “It’s something that’s almost on a fundamental level and has as much to do with the quality of the candidates and the position of the Ohio Dem Party. They don’t know how to connect with the majority of Ohio voters.”
Democrat Sherrod Brown has safely held his Senate seat since 2006. That election was the last major set of statewide victories by Democrats, a wave made possible for Republicans after a political scandal that involved investing state funds in rare coins. However, next year could be a chance for Democrats to take Portman’s seat.
“A brutal Republican primary gives them their best shot at rebuilding,” said Robert Alexander, a political science professor at Ohio Northern University. “In short, what happens in 2022 is a last stand for Democrats to avoid a state going from red purple to blood red.”
The most notable Republican candidates are bowing to Trump in a crowded field. Former party president Jane Timken, “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance, banker Mike Gibbons, former Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel, and car dealer-turned-tech executive Bernie Moreno are among the others. By far, the most prominent Democrat seeking the seat is U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, whose northeastern district includes the city of Youngstown.
This race is as much about Biden as it is about Trump’s staying power. Alexander said turnout could drop in 2022 without Trump on the ballot, giving a boost to Democrats who can appeal to working-class voters.
“There is no doubt that Republicans in the state are doing their best to imitate Trump online and at public events,” he said. “Whether this really translates into voter turnout is an open question.”
Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.