Trump makes pitch before crucial Ohio election

President Donald Trump held a rally in Ohio to stump for GOP candidate Troy Balderson ahead of a crucial special election for Ohio's 12th Congressional District.

Posted: Aug 6, 2018 1:26 PM
Updated: Aug 6, 2018 1:39 PM

President Donald Trump's visit to central Ohio on Saturday injected him into a high-stakes congressional special election where Republicans are fighting to avoid another special election defeat ahead of November's midterm election.

Republican Troy Balderson will face off against Democrat Danny O'Connor in Ohio's 12th Congressional District on Tuesday, in the final special election before November. A loss for Balderson in this district, which has historically favored Republicans, would further signal that Democrats have the momentum heading into November.

During Saturday's rally, Trump praised Balderson, saying, "He's really tough. He's really smart. He never stops working."

Balderson later delivered remarks next to the President. He called Trump's presence at the rally a "humbling experience" and went on to praise his economic efforts.

"Mr. President, we don't want to go back," Balderson said, adding,"I'm not tired of winning."

"If you want someone who will fight for President Trump's economic agenda, that is putting America back to work, then I need your help and I need your vote on Tuesday," he added.

A Monmouth University poll released this week shows a tight race, with Balderson receiving 44% support to O'Connor's 43%, with 11% of respondents saying they are undecided.

Trump's visit in the closing days of the campaign is a clear attempt by Republicans to rally base voters to Balderson, hoping that the President can charge turnout in the Republican-leaning district.

On Saturday morning, Trump went after Balderson's opponent by linking him to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, repeating an attack that GOP ads have used to try to close the distance O'Connor has placed between himself and the Democratic leader.

"Troy Balderson, running for Congress from Ohio, is in a big Election fight with a candidate who just got caught lying about his relationship with Nancy Pelosi, who is weak on Crime, Borders & your 2nd Amendment-and wants to raise your Taxes (by a lot)," Trump tweeted. "Vote for Troy on Tuesday!

O'Connor's campaign, meanwhile, has used the visit to raise money and, in a statement to CNN, called the event Balderson's "final audition for the old club of DC politicians who are bought and paid for by special interests and party bosses."

Complicating matters for Republicans, O'Connor and the groups backing him have hammered Balderson in unison for backing the GOP-backed tax plan and argued repeatedly that the tax cuts are a serious threat to Social Security and Medicare. Should O'Connor -- a moderate, young Democrat who currently serves as the Franklin County Recorder -- beat Balderson on Tuesday, Democrats will have a model for turning the tax cuts against Republicans, taking an issue that the GOP saw as a selling point on the campaign trail and turning it into a possible liability for vulnerable Republicans.

"Take Troy Balderson. He supports giving corporations a massive tax break that helps rack up $2 trillion in debt," a narrator warns in one of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's closing ads. "Balderson's plan either means cutting Medicare and Social Security, or raising taxes on our kids and grandkids."

The O'Connor campaign's most-run TV advertisement echoes that criticism.

And in a move that garnered national headlines this week, a California father suffering from ALS named Ady Barkan personally funded a six-figure ad buy targeting the special election. He, too, emphasized concerns about health care and the tax cuts. "I was shocked when the Republicans in Congress proposed a tax bill that would take away my health care to fund tax cuts for billionaires," Barkan says in the ad, describing his burgeoning activism.

Democrats have been consistent in their messaging -- running positive biographical spots about O'Connor and paeans to bipartisanship, mixed with negative ads hitting the tax bill and warning of threats to entitlement programs.

Still, Democrats haven't shied from sharp-elbowed attacks. A new ad from American Bridge released this week hammers Balderson for "refusing to tell voters if he'd support Jim Jordan for Speaker," and references allegations that Jordan knew about sexual abuse by a team doctor at a university while he served as the team's assistant coach.

Republicans, on the other hand, have eschewed more pro-tax ads for an array of attacks against the Democrat.

Republicans were airing some ads about tax reform early in the special election and recent spots have made passing mention of it. The National Republican Congressional Committee began airing an ad on July 17 that made passing reference to the plan by using O'Connor's opposition to argue he would raise "middle class taxes."

But the most frequent line of attack in the closing weeks of the campaign has been tying O'Connor to Pelosi, a unpopular figure in Republican circles.

Despite running for much of the campaign in opposition to Pelosi, O'Connor gave Republicans a hand in this effort in July when he waffled on his opposition to Pelosi for speaker during an MSNBC interview.

After host Chris Matthews pushed the candidate on his opposition to Pelosi, O'Connor eventually said he "would support whoever the Democrats put forward" on the House floor.

Republicans turned to the line in the closing days of the campaign.

"After lying the whole campaign, Dishonest Danny O'Connor now admits he'd vote for Pelosi," the ad, run by the House leadership-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, states before showing an edited version of the MSNBC exchange. "Dishonest Danny lied about Pelosi. Now he's lying about Social Security and Medicare."

In one of CLF's TV ads, the group links O'Connor to Pelosi, but also to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, warns of "the resistance," and chides the Democrat for opposing a wall on the border with Mexico.

And in response to O'Connor's attacks against Balderson on Social Security and Medicare, the Republican campaign and National Republican Congressional Committee have moved to shore up support from senior citizens with two ads pledging to protect their energy costs and safety net programs.

"My parents raised me to work hard, help others and always tell the truth," Balderson says in a straight to camera ad sitting next to his mother. "I'm Troy Balderson and that's why I am running for Congress. And why I would never do anything to cut Social Security or Medicare."

The NRCC spot features a senior couple from Ohio warning that O'Connor "doesn't understand what it's like for folks like us" to save money, and that he isn't "safe for seniors" because of his support for energy regulations.

One reason for this strategy is that O'Connor's attacks on the two safety net programs appear to be hurting Balderson with voters older than 65. According to a Monmouth University poll released this week, Balderson only leads O'Connor by three percentage points with voters older than 65, a margin that most Republicans believe is too small to be successful in the urban, suburban and rural district.

Balderson and the outside groups, at the same time, are also looking to shore up support with the establishment wing of the state party, some of whom reject Trump, by airing an ad touting the candidate's support from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who represented the 12th District for 18 years before becoming governor.

Still, Kasich's relationship with Balderson has been awkward, at best, since the Republican jumped into the race. Kasich held off endorsing Balderson as he ran toward Trump during the primary and general election. Kasich is one of the chief Republican critics of the President.

The governor eventually endorsed Balderson in late July, and the ad is a reflection of Balderson's concern about potential GOP defections.

O'Connor has also made a point of appealing to Kasich voters, a pitch he has made both in person and with a television ad of his own which features a voter explaining their evolving support for Kasich, Trump and O'Connor.

"John Kasich and Danny O'Connor both don't worry about the labels of Democrat, Republican. They are going to go get things done either way," the voter explains in the spot.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1462456

Reported Deaths: 20308
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2005922494
Lake992001456
Allen903391005
Hamilton70705539
St. Joseph63078746
Elkhart48098622
Vanderburgh46217523
Tippecanoe42115330
Johnson37119516
Hendricks35078455
Porter33900460
Madison28036530
Clark25186321
Vigo24768341
LaPorte22894307
Monroe22201243
Howard21344372
Delaware20937363
Hancock18289217
Kosciusko17513199
Bartholomew17399212
Warrick16060212
Wayne15757296
Floyd15399252
Grant14898293
Morgan13934230
Boone13172136
Noble11421140
Dearborn11355112
Henry11312201
Shelby11231150
Marshall11041166
Dubois10782152
Jackson10174104
DeKalb9944128
Cass9942142
Lawrence9914219
Huntington9823139
Gibson9131125
Montgomery9005140
Knox8762124
Harrison8718111
Whitley844771
Steuben8340102
Jasper8069113
Putnam795197
Clinton792994
Miami7914133
Wabash7598138
Jefferson7551124
Ripley6993111
Adams6508101
Scott629086
Daviess6266127
White602379
Greene5913111
Clay587173
Wells5814120
Decatur5754118
Jennings572276
Fayette5657121
Posey529146
LaGrange512996
Randolph4925128
Washington482067
Owen480398
Fountain463579
Spencer438156
Starke434086
Sullivan432164
Fulton426790
Orange412682
Jay403964
Rush395736
Carroll371349
Franklin369850
Perry362155
Vermillion345062
Pike308945
Tipton307974
Parke305038
Pulaski266973
Blackford266755
Newton228359
Brown222654
Benton213321
Crawford211231
Switzerland189414
Martin181921
Warren169520
Union163619
Ohio119516
Unassigned0742

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2403645

Reported Deaths: 30922
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2596932036
Cuyahoga2572672998
Hamilton1666711699
Montgomery1103831586
Summit1066861382
Lucas895171149
Butler78647924
Stark747301383
Lorain62885783
Warren49934468
Mahoning49735909
Lake46850586
Clermont43541428
Delaware38876210
Trumbull38576748
Medina37611416
Licking36901401
Fairfield33848331
Greene32124416
Portage31381356
Clark30277440
Richland28251420
Wood27660289
Allen24372392
Miami22806389
Muskingum22298244
Columbiana22095399
Wayne21275354
Tuscarawas18847423
Erie18041221
Ashtabula17932338
Marion17503231
Scioto16553203
Ross16163249
Pickaway15536173
Hancock15251227
Geauga15244221
Lawrence13847186
Huron13399182
Union1329683
Belmont13255247
Jefferson12864257
Sandusky12770197
Athens11949106
Knox11511195
Seneca11454200
Ashland10795174
Darke10673196
Washington10564168
Auglaize10152141
Crawford9854175
Shelby9699155
Brown9400140
Fulton9235148
Guernsey9109115
Defiance9057134
Highland9035143
Logan8955141
Clinton8719121
Mercer8640111
Madison8568104
Preble8002160
Williams7848135
Putnam7731135
Ottawa7629120
Champaign7556112
Jackson7383114
Perry714598
Coshocton7043136
Morrow694580
Fayette662287
Hardin6219125
Pike617086
Gallia594989
Adams5779124
Van Wert5779120
Henry565592
Hocking5521103
Carroll4828100
Wyandot482289
Holmes4747161
Paulding401163
Meigs375071
Monroe299368
Noble279851
Harrison279461
Morgan276848
Vinton239845
Unassigned08
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