Rep. Tim Ryan, J.D. Vance clash over China, abortion in Ohio Senate debate

The Senate candidates focused on abortion, the economy, political party leaders, and China.
Tim Ryan

Rep. Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance faced off in their only statewide debate on Monday in the Ohio Senate race, battling over subjects ranging from abortion to China. 

The Democratic nominee for Senate argued that Roe v. Wade should be codified, ensuring that abortion is legalized across the country, according to the Associated Press

"This is the largest governmental overreach in our lifetime, a complete violation of personal freedom and liberty of women in this state," Ryan said of the overturning of Roe by the Supreme Court in June. 

"J.D. Vance is extreme on these issues. No exceptions for rape or incest," the Democratic congressman argued. "Now he says he's not for same-sex marriage. He's going right down the line with the absolute most extremist. The guys who want to ban books. Those are the guys you bring into the state to campaign. Those are extreme positions that Ohioans are rejecting."

Vance argued that "Ohio's going to want to have different abortion laws than California, than Texas. I think Ohio should have that right. 

"We're talking about 5-month-old babies, fully formed babies who can feel pain. No civilized country in the world allows elective abortion that late into pregnancy."

The Republican nominee for Senate noted that while a 10-year-old in Ohio who was raped by an illegal immigrant shouldn't have had to leave the state for an abortion, the fact that her attacker was in the U.S. was due to weak policies on the southern border. 

"You voted so many times against 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. Do your job on border security, don't lecture me about opinions I don't actually have."

While Vance said that Ryan's voting record aligned with Democratic Party leaders, Ryan focused on his opponent's relationship with former President Trump. 

After Vance was asked a question about the economy, he tied Ryan to inflation and Biden's policies. 

"Tim Ryan, of course, has supported all of these policies a hundred percent of the time," Vance said. "I believe we've gone in a fundamentally bad direction over the last couple of years. I think people deserve to go to the grocery store without it completely breaking the bank. 

"Tim Ryan has voted with these policies a hundred percent of the time," he continued. "Every time he gets an opportunity to stand with Ohioans, he chooses to bend the knee to his own party."

Ryan mentioned the Youngstown rally that Trump held for Vance last month, where the former president claimed Vance, his former critic, was "in love" with him and was "kissing my ass" for support. 

"Here's the thing that's most troubling about this: lack of courage," Ryan said about the rally. "After Trump took J.D. Vance's dignity from him on the stage in Youngstown, J.D. Vance got back up on stage and started shaking his hand, taking pictures."

"I'm for Ohio. I don't kiss anyone’s ass like him. Ohio needs an ass-kicker, not an ass-kisser," he added. 

Ryan, who has been in Congress for nearly 20 years, said that he would "like to see a generational change" and believes that Biden shouldn’t run for reelection in 2024. 

"Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, the president, everybody," Ryan added. "We need a new generation of leadership."

With regard to China, Ryan criticized Vance for investing in the country as a venture capitalist. 

"Here's the problem: J.D. Vance is invested into companies in China," Ryan said. "The problem we're having now with inflation is our supply chains all went to China, and guys like him made a whole lot of money off that."

Vance said that Ryan's prior support of banning fracking "crushes the Ohio energy sector and that's one reason why manufacturers are going to China. 

"Another reason manufacturers are going to China is because the Chinese undercut American wages. The only way to really combat that is tariffs, which I've supported. … In 2018, 2019 and 2020 you opposed the tariffs that started to bring some of that manufacturing and industrial base back to Ohio," Vance added. 

"I'd like Tim Ryan to lecture me on my business background a little bit less and explain to me why the guy who's the biggest fighter of China had his own congressional district lose tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs to China just in your time in public service."