Donald Trump arrived on stage at Youngstown’s Covelli Centre Saturday night to thunderous cheers.
The former president was the last in a slate of Trump-endorsed Republican officials and candidates electioneering for Vance, including U.S. Reps Jim Jordan and Bill Johnson.
The former president began by greeting the crowd and remarking on the Ohio State Buckeyes game. (Ohio Democrats had been mocking the Republicans in recent days for scheduling a rally when the state’s beloved scarlet and gray were playing.) He quickly pivoted to talking about the upcoming election.
“Less than two months from now, the people of Ohio are going to vote and fire the radical left Democrats,” Trump said.
He said that the choice in November is between voting for Democrats — assuring the continued “destruction” of America — or voting for Republicans in order to save the country.
“The radical Democrat congress has turned our country into a sanctuary for dangerous criminals,” Trump said.
Trump said the American dream was being shredded, using the recent poor performance of the stock market as an example.
During his hour-long speech, Trump touched on his perceived persecution and the Afghanistan withdrawal. He also reiterating the debunked claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged — “I ran twice, and won twice,” he said — and criticized immigration along America’s southern border. He called for the death penalty for drug dealers and human traffickers.
Moving on to the election, Trump accused Ryan of being a radical leftist who has been lying about being a moderate. He also attacked Ryan over his support for taking action against climate change.
“A vote for Tim Ryan is a vote for extinguishing America’s future,” Trump said. “The entire MAGA movement is for J.D. Vance.”
Trump invited Vance on stage with him to say a few words.
Vance is running against Ryan for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Trump last visited Ohio in April to rally supporters behind the “Hillbilly Elegy” author amid a divisive GOP primary that surfaced Vance’s past criticisms of the former president.
“[Ryan’s] whole attack on me is that I’m out of state, from California, even though the reason I left the state when I was 18 years old was to enlist in the United States Marine Corps and go and serve my country,” said Vance. “Tim Ryan has not one, but two books on yoga and meditation. Tim Ryan has called to ban gas powered cars, and Tim Ryan has voted for the Green New Deal. Who’s from California, Tim? It sounds like you are.”
Vance then called for the firing of 87,000 newly hired IRS agents and a mass hiring of border patrol agents.
Supporters show up early for Trump/Vance rally
Five hours before the doors of the Covelli Centre opened Saturday, there was already a line for admission. The crowd was in good spirits, bouncing a beach ball back and forth. Somewhere, someone got the crowd chanting “back the blue” in support of police officers.
Many people arriving were decked out in Trump merchandise. The approach to the rally site was lined with vendors selling items like Trump hats or shirts to people who showed up without one. Many more wore shirts emblazoned with Second Amendment support slogans, ridicule for President Joe Biden or religious-tinged messages such as “Jesus is my savior, Trump is my President.”
American flag hats, shirts and pants seemed to be everywhere.
‘That man is so bright’
Alice Marshall, a Youngstown resident, said she came to Covelli Centre because the country needs to change.
“Trump, Vance, really, and the people that have a good heart are going to change this nation back to what the Constitution is, and back to the legal way it’s supposed to be,” Marshall said.
Her impressions of Vance are positive despite his previous remarks critical of Trump.
“That man is so bright,” she said of Vance.
“He probably was thinking about what the media says about Trump, until he met him, until he found out who he really was.”
Jo Ellen of Sandusky, on the other hand, was a little more lukewarm on Vance. She said she hasn’t done enough research on him to have an opinion one way or another, but she has heard some negative opinion.
“(I’ve heard) conflicting reports that he’s one of the good guys, that he’s one of the bad guys that can’t be trusted, that he’s a RINO (Republican in name only) — I don’t know,” said Ellen. She’s not at the rally to have her mind made up, though. Ellen is there for two reasons.
“I’m here to support Trump, and to boo loudly when he says he endorsed DeWine,” Ellen said.
My Pillow CEO and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, a prominent Trump supporter, spoke outside the Covelli Centre for about an hour, warming up the waiting crowd like an opening act at a concert.
The event, originally scheduled to begin a 4 p.m., started late. The first speaker, J.R. Majewski, took the stage around 4:40 p.m.
Majewski is the Republican nominee for U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 9th Congressional District.
Majewski thanked the crowd for being there, asking them if they’re excited to see who he calls “the greatest president the country has ever seen.” The crowd responded with cheers.
Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, Republican nominee for U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, spoke next.
Max Miller, Republican nominee for U.S. Rep for Ohio’s 7th Congressional District; Marjorie Taylor Greene, U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District; Rep. Bill Johnson, U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 6th Congressional District; and Rep. Jim Jordan, U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 4th Congressional District all spoke as well.
All the speakers hit more or less the the same notes: Democrats are bad. Nancy Pelosi is bad. Illegal immigration is rampant. The 2020 election was stolen. And Donald Trump is the greatest president the America has ever seen.
During the rally, Vance shared his story of growing up with the crowd. He grew up in Middleton, an Ohio city that shares some of the same history as Youngstown.
“When the jobs moved out, the drugs moved into my family,” Vance said, “so I was raised by my working-class grandparents.” He said that Ohio has been good to him, presenting him with the opportunity to represent the Republican party.
Vance moved to attacking Ryan, saying that there are two versions of the candidate. The first is the version presented to the voters, who plays at being a moderate. The second is who he calls “D.C. Tim, who votes 100% of the time with Joe Biden.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we need to kick D.C Tim to the curb, make him go back home and get a real job for once,” Vance said to cheers and applause. “I’ve got to say, ladies and gentleman, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
The event could provide Vance with additional momentum as the race attracts national attention and heads into its final weeks. Groups such as the Senate Leadership Fund are pouring money into Ohio to boost Vance, who has trailed behind Ryan in fundraising. Republicans also expressed concern over the summer that Vance wasn’t campaigning enough and allowing his opponent to dominate the airwaves.
A USA TODAY Network Ohio/Suffolk University poll released Monday showed the candidates virtually tied, with Ryan leading Vance 46.6% to 45.6% of voters.
The rally also came days after Trump endorsed Gov. Mike DeWine, who is running for reelection against former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. Trump didn’t weigh in on the four-way primary for the GOP nomination, but the governor still won with 48% of the vote.
DeWine was at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport Saturday evening to welcome Trump to Ohio and thank him for his endorsement, according to Tricia McLaughlin, DeWine campaign spokesman.
Haley BeMiller from the USA TODAY Network Ohio State Bureau contributed to this report.
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