The Democratic candidates for Ohio senator and governor were nowhere to be found Wednesday as President Biden visited Cleveland — an indicator of the commander in chief’s political toxicity as the longtime battleground state moves firmly into the Republican column.
While Ohio’s Democratic US senator, Sherrod Brown, attended the event along with a handful of other prominent Buckeye State elected officials, Rep. Tim Ryan and gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley were conspicuously absent.
“We’re in close contact with Congressman Tim Ryan in particular and work with him and also Nan Whaley,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on board Air Force One.
“We’ve worked — we’ve worked closely with him on — just as it relates to Tim Ryan — on a variety of issues,” she added. “… And though he can’t be there with us today … Tim Ryan put out — put out a statement supporting — supporting his [Biden’s] trip, and we’re in constant communication.”
A spokesperson for Ryan told The Washington Times the Democrat had to miss Biden’s visit for “a full day of previously scheduled campaign events along the Ohio River.”
Representatives for Ryan and Whaley did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
Ohio was long regarded as a bellwether state in presidential elections, voting for the winner in 13 consecutive contests between 1964 and 2016. But in 2020, Donald Trump won the state by 8 percentage points, despite pre-Election Day polling that showed him in a dead heat with Biden.
That swing toward Republicans has continued into the midterm primaries. According to data compiled by JMC Analytics & Polling, turnout for GOP primaries in Ohio was up 23% from 2018 while Democratic turnout was down 29%.
Meanwhile, a Morning Consult tracking poll from April showed Biden with a net approval rating in Ohio of -19 percentage points. As of Wednesday, the president’s average approval rating nationwide sat at an abysmal 38.4%, according to data collected by RealClearPolitics.
Biden showed no sign of being perturbed at Ryan and Whaley’s absence Wednesday — at one point hailing the congressman as the “future” senator from Ohio.
The president was in Cleveland to unveil a federal rule allowing troubled multi-company pensions to be made financially whole, ensuring full benefits for millions of workers and retirees
“This Fourth of July, let’s remember who was the backbone of this country — the American worker,” Biden said. “I promised you I’d been the most pro-labor, pro-union, pro-worker president in history, and there’s another promise I’m going to be keeping as well.”
The president also blasted Republican members of Congress who opposed the pension support in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was enacted last year.
“Who do they think they are? Who do they think you are, for God’s sake?” Biden said.
“My predecessor had a chance to act but didn’t have a commitment to you or the courage to stand up to his own party to get things done. Dismissing and ignoring the forgotten people he promised to help,” he continued.
Later in his remarks, Biden joked at the sound of a cellphone ringing, saying: “That’s probably Trump calling me.”
With Post wires