Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance left nothing off the table Monday night in their first, and possibly only, debate of the hotly contested Ohio Senate race — with Vance saying Ryan supported weak border policies that led to the rape of a 10-year-old girl.
Ryan, the 20-year House veteran hoping to flip the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Rob Portman, set the tone by insisting that the Buckeye State “needs an ass-kicker, not an ass-kisser” in a shot at Vance’s support for former President Donald Trump.
“We need leaders who have courage to take on their own party — and I’ve proven that — and he was called an ass kisser by the former president,” said the Democrat, referencing a rally last month in which Trump said the “Hillbilly Elegy” author was “kissing my ass, he wants my support.”
The 45th president was responding to a New York Times report that Vance and other Senate candidates in battleground states were shying away from inviting Trump to campaign for them over concern about alienating independent and swing voters.
The candidates also traded rhetorical blows over the Supreme Court reversing Roe. v. Wade in June, focusing on the notorious case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who received an out-of-state abortion after authorities say she was raped by an illegal immigrant.
“[Roe] was established law for 50 years, and we then have all the chaos that we’re having now,” Ryan said. “We read at least a couple articles every week of young people, underage girls who have been raped, or women who have had significant problems with their pregnancy, are not able to get help in the state. They’ve gotta go to Indiana, they’ve gotta go to Illinois, and that’s not good enough for J.D. Vance.
“He supports a national abortion ban in which he wants women to have to get a passport and go to Canada,” the Democrat alleged. “Like, we’ve got to have some moderation on this issue. He’s got a very extreme position.”
Ryan then attacked Vance for arguing last month against exceptions for rape or incest in abortion bans, with the Republican saying his stance was about “whether a child should be allowed to live, even though the circumstances of that child’s birth are somehow inconvenient or a problem to the society.”
“J.D., you called rape inconvenient, right?” Ryan said Monday night. “Rape is not inconvenient, it’s a significant tragedy.”
Vance fired back by saying that he believes “in reasonable exceptions” to abortion bans and accusing Ryan of being responsible for the girl’s alleged rapist being in the country illegally.
“You voted so many times against the border wall funding, so many times for amnesty, Tim,” Vance said. “If you had done your job, she would have never been raped in the first place.”
Elsewhere in the debate, Vance said Ryan was celebrating Halloween by putting on “a costume where he pretends to be a reasonable moderate.” If he had, Vance said, “Youngstown may not have lost 50,000 manufacturing jobs during your 20 years [in office].”
“I’m not gonna apologize for spending 20 years of my adult life slogging away to try to help one of the hardest economically hit regions of Ohio and dedicating my life to help that region come back,” Ryan answered. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself, J.D. You went off to California, you were drinking wine and eating cheese.”
Vance countered that he left Ohio at 18 to join the Marines, and after working in Silicon Valley as a venture capitalist, he returned to raise his family and start a business.
With four weeks to go before Election Day, Vance leads Ryan by 1.4 percentage points according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls.
With Post wires