search
Sections List
American Journal News

Donald Trump makes last minute push for Bernie Moreno in Ohio’s U.S. Senate primary

A couple thousand Ohio voters spent a blustery Saturday on a Dayton tarmac waiting to see Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. In front of bleachers done up with bunting, Trump promised the largest “deportation operation in American history” and compared immigrants to animals.

By Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal - March 18, 2024
Share
Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women Lilac Luncheon, Tuesday, June 27, 2023, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A couple thousand Ohio voters spent a blustery Saturday on a Dayton tarmac waiting to see Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. In front of bleachers done up with bunting, Trump promised the largest “deportation operation in American history” and compared immigrants to animals. He warned reelecting Joe Biden could be the last election in the country’s history and described people convicted of wrongdoing on January 6 as “hostages” and “unbelievable patriots.” Trump pledged a return to “MAGAnomics,” and threatened a renewed trade war with China.

After running the gauntlet of salesmen hawking “47” hats and Trump t-shirts, Margaret Wilkes said she thinks Trump is “the most important person in the world right now.”

“I love him dearly,” she added. “I think he’s a wonderful person, and I appreciate his leadership.”

Her friend Jackie Shook compared the country’s challenges to “our generation’s Pearl Harbor.”

But Trump’s visit was less about his own electoral prospects than those of his endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Westlake entrepreneur Bernie Moreno. The former car salesman has faced headwinds in recent days and Trump’s visit appeared calibrated to improve his chances on Election Day.

Polling has been light for the most part, but a flurry of recent surveys have shown a substantial share of undecided voters. A recent poll from Emerson University, for instance, gave state Sen. Matt Dolan a narrow lead within the margin of error. But even more notable, the biggest share of respondents remained undecided about who to support. A poll a conducted by Florida Atlantic University found reached a similar conclusion.

Moreno has also found himself fending off controversy after the AP reported his email address was associated with a profile on Adult Friend Finder. He quickly dismissed it as a prank by a former intern. After the founder of the website described the profile as “consistent with a prank or someone just checking out the site,” Moreno’s campaign claimed it “completely debunked” the story.

Moreno’s stump speech

On stage, Moreno cast Tuesday’s primary election as a stark choice for Republican voters.

“This is the last gasp of breath of the swamp RINO establishment in Ohio,” he said. “And I need you on Tuesday to stab it right in the heart and make it clear that in Ohio we put America First.”

To Moreno, that so-called RINO, or Republican in Name Only, establishment is personified in Matt Dolan. In the last two weeks, Dolan has picked up the endorsements of former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and Gov. Mike DeWine, despite the latter previously stating he wouldn’t weigh in.

And although Moreno is undoubtedly correct that Trump is very popular among Ohio’s GOP voters, Trump’s appeal isn’t unlimited. Both of those more centrist politicians, for instance, outperformed Trump the last time they went before voters. In 2016, Portman did six points better than Trump, and DeWine’s 62% share in 2022 is about 10 points better than either of Trump’s showings in Ohio.

In terms of policy, Moreno filled out the conservative bingo card — energy dominance, protecting the Second Amendment, eliminating the U.S. Department of Education. But perhaps his biggest response came from hard-line immigration talking points.

“If you’re in this country illegally,” he said, “listen clearly — listen very clearly. Starting in January 2025, you will be deported.”

Although Moreno’s opponents, Dolan and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose have made immigration and border enforcement the centerpiece of their campaigns as well, they’ve criticized Moreno’s deportation promises as unrealistic.

And in a reminder of how deep-seated COVID-19 conspiracy thinking is among Republicans, Moreno also got a huge applause from tying the pandemic to international organizations like the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organization.

“To the WEF and the World Health Organization, if you think that you can fool us ever again by unleashing a virus on America, locking us down, forcing us to get vaccinated forcing us to get masks, you’re wrong,” Moreno said.

In response to the pandemic and its associated recession, the WEF proposed what it called the Great Reset, which emphasized sustainability and equity as governments rebuilt. On darker corners of the internet, however, that has morphed into conspiracy theories asserting global elites either created the virus or took advantage of it to seize control of the global economy and take away peoples’ rights.

After Moreno invoked COVID policy, the crowd began chanting his name, “Bernie,” over and over again.

On his way out, Bill Lobl explained he was supporting Moreno, and that Trump’s endorsement didn’t make a huge difference for him.

“If you can start business and run it just like Trump did with his and become a person of the people then more power to them,” Lobl said.

Shauna Diedling insisted “Bernie Moreno is for the people of Ohio. Bernie Moreno is going to be change. Bernie Moreno is going to be good and he’s not going to be corrupt.”

James Sheets traveled from Columbus because he wanted his kids to see Trump. He explained Trump’s endorsement mattered a lot in decision to support Moreno. Margaret Wilkes and Jackie Shook are supporting Moreno as well, and Wilkes dismissed the Adult Friend Finder story with a simple, “I don’t believe it, basically.”

Still, it’s unclear how many undecided Ohioans he swayed. Every one of those voters were in Moreno’s camp before the rally.

Trump’s speech

Trump rallies have a kind of standard format — digressions, quips, threats, and attacks that get repeated over and over. The persistence of some lines is reliable enough that his supporters notice and comment on new twists in delivery.

On a slogan about Trump standing in the way of opponents coming after his supporters, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH told the crowd, “We were out in Iowa with him during the caucuses and he changed that one a little bit. I like it even better now. He says they’re coming after my freedom because I’m fighting for yours.”

But with heavy wind, Trump’s teleprompters wobbled enough that he had trouble reading from them. “Great job, fellas, don’t pay these suckers please,” Trump said of the supposed teleprompter company. Without a reliable script, his speech was looser, his attacks sharper.

He cursed more than usual, too. U.S. Sen. Katie Britt, R-AL, won her Senate seat over Mo Brooks because “people don’t want to hear bulls—,” Trump claimed. What people had heard was Trump-endorsed Brooks encouraging Republicans to move on from 2020 stolen election conspiracies. After that Trump switched his endorsement to Britt who went on to win. He described California Gov. Gavin Newsom as “a bulls— artist,” and dismissed advisors urging him to tone down attacks on Republicans with “I don’t give a s—.”

That looser format gave rein to Trump’s already bombastic rhetoric. After warning China’s Xi Jinping that he’d place a 100% tariff on cars produced in Chinese-owned, Mexican factories, Trump clarified “if I get elected.”

“Now if I don’t get elected,” he continued, “it’s gonna be a bloodbath for the whole — that’s gonna be the least of it. It’s gonna be a bloodbath for the country. That’d be the least of it. But they’re not going to sell those cars.”

The Biden campaign was quick to pounce on the phrasing and connect it to the violence carried out by Trump’s supporters on January 6. In a press release after the fact, Trump’s campaign insisted he meant a metaphoric, economic bloodbath rather than a literal one.

While Democrats have seized on Trump’s own statements about taking dictatorial power, Trump insisted electing Biden could lead to the end of democracy.

“If this election isn’t won, I’m not sure that you’ll ever have another election in this country,” he said. “Does that make sense?”

He did not elaborate on his reasoning.

Trump promised to begin the “largest domestic deportation effort in American history” on day one of his administration. He argued countries in central and south America are sending their criminals to the U.S.

“If you call them people,” Trump began, “I don’t know if you’d call them people, in some cases. They’re not people in my opinion, but I’m not allowed to say that because the radical left says that’s a terrible thing to say.”

“These are bad — these are animals, ok?” he added.

Trump also made the dubious warning that illegal immigration imperils Social Security and Medicare. Although they benefit from neither program, illegal immigrants earning money in the U.S. pay taxes that contribute to the programs’ trust funds. Even if immigrants gain legal status, they may not work long enough to meet eligibility requirements. A 2018 report from the Bipartisan Policy Center found that while it’s not a silver bullet, increasing pathways for immigration would help bolster the Social Security system as the population of retirees grows.

As for Moreno, Trump told the crowd, “We have to elect Bernie to get in there and to seal our border, stop inflation, crush the deep state — we started that when we got rid of Comey, drill, baby drill, and prevent World War III.”

Without directly mentioning the Adult Friend Finder story he said Moreno is “getting some very tough Democrat fake treatment right now, and we’re not going to stand for it because I know this man. We all know this man. He’s a hero. He’s a winner.”

Ironically, though, Moreno is actually getting some last-minute help from Democrats. An ad paid for by a group connected with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer ‘criticizes’ Moreno as “too conservative for Ohio.” The unspoken goal, of course, being to strengthen Moreno’s position in the primary and potentially set up an easier general election contest for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

This story was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal


Read More
AJ News
Latest
GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

By Jesse Valentine - April 15, 2024
GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

By Jesse Valentine - March 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

By Jesse Valentine - March 08, 2024
Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

By Jesse Valentine - March 07, 2024
Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

By Jesse Valentine - March 04, 2024
Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

By Jesse Valentine - February 26, 2024
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Ohio doctors fear effects of emergency abortion care case set to go before U.S. Supreme Court

Ohio doctors fear effects of emergency abortion care case set to go before U.S. Supreme Court

By Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal - April 23, 2024
President Biden visits Prince William park to talk solar, youth involvement on Earth Day

President Biden visits Prince William park to talk solar, youth involvement on Earth Day

By Charlie Paullin, Virginia Mercury - April 23, 2024
Biden on abortion rights: President expects to give speech Tuesday on new Florida 6-week ban

Biden on abortion rights: President expects to give speech Tuesday on new Florida 6-week ban

By Mitch Perry, Florida Phoenix - April 22, 2024
New group will advocate for increased voting access for Alabamians with disabilities

New group will advocate for increased voting access for Alabamians with disabilities

By Ralph Chapoco, Alabama Reflector - April 22, 2024
Group launches effort to explore ballot initiative restoring abortion access in Idaho

Group launches effort to explore ballot initiative restoring abortion access in Idaho

By Kelcie Moseley-Morris, Idaho Capital Sun - April 19, 2024
Michigan House panel OKs bills allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control

Michigan House panel OKs bills allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control

By Katie O'Brien Kelley, Michigan Advance - April 19, 2024