Vance-Ryan exchange words in final high-stakes Ohio Senate debate
With only weeks to go before the general election, Ohio U.S. Senate candidates Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance faced off for a second and final debate in Youngstown Monday night.
Ryan, the 10-term Democratic Valley congressman, debated the political Republican newcomer, Vance, a venture capitalist, and best-selling author - both seeking to fill the seat vacated by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
With most polls indicating that the Ohio Senate race is very tight, this is perhaps the last opportunity for both candidates to sway undecided voters.
It's been a hard-fought race between Ryan and Vance, with GOP throwing millions into the Vance campaign,
Tim Ryan, however, has kept the race competitive without major Democratic support.
The debate is moderated by WFMJ 21 News anchors Derek Steyer, Lindsay McCoy and by veteran Valley journalist Bertram de Souza.
The first topic addressed was inflation. Ryan says the solution is the Inflation Reduction Act and a tax cut on working families, but Vance says "runaway spending" is the reason the U.S. is in an inflation crisis and blames Ryan for supporting spending bills of the Biden administration.
The second topic addressed was comments made during the first debate where Ryan called Vance Donald Trump's "ass kisser."
Vance says Trump's comments were meant to be taken as a joke and brought up comments from Ryan claiming to "love Nancy Pelosi" and needing to "kiss up to Chuck Schumer" in response to Ryan's criticism.
"I know the president very well and he was joking about a New York Times story. That's all he's doing," Vance said.
Ryan responded to Vance's criticisms by stating that the Nancy Pelosi quote was taken out of context and claims the quote was said right before he said he was running against Pelosi.
"I don't have to hate her. I took her on. She was the top Democrat in the entire country, and I stood toe to toe with her ... and I spoke my peace," Ryan said.
Abortion and Roe v. Wade.
Ryan says the next step in this battle is to stop Senator, Lindsey Graham's proposal for a national abortion ban citing women who could not get abortions after cases such as rape due to Ohio's heartbeat bill.
"If the Republicans control the House and the Senate, we won't be able to codify Roe v. Wade," Ryan said.
Vance stood by his comments from the previous debate that he believes the 10-year-old girl who had to travel out of state for an abortion should have been allowed to have one.
Vance criticized Ryan for allegedly not supporting any limits on abortion, meaning an abortion could happen at any point during pregnancy, and stood by his comments from the previous debate that there should be better access to abortion alternatives.
"An incest exception looks different at three weeks of pregnancy than at 39 weeks of pregnancy," Vance said.
Vance was then asked about the opioid crisis and what he would do to address it.
Vance says he believes the solution is to close the border, stating that more drugs are coming into Ohio because of illegal immigrants coming into the state.
Vance went on to say that Ohio needs to properly resource its addiction and recovery services.
Ryan conceded that better border control could help decrease the amount of overdose deaths in the Valley.
"We have to punish the Chinese because they know it's getting into our country. We have to punish the Mexican government, because we know it's coming from there," Ryan said.
Ryan went on to criticize Vance's allegedly fake non-profit to help those with addiction claiming that he did not help anyone with this non-profit.
Vance countered this claim by stating that he put in $80,000 of his own money and did help people with this non-profit. He also attacked Ryan stating that he does not actually support border control bringing up his voting history during his time in Congress.
"You cannot honestly pretend to be a supporter of border security when you have voted for amnesty multiple times in Congress. You cannot pretend to be a supporter of border security when you have voted against a border wall," Vance said.
Threats to Democracy.
The next topic addressed was threats to American democracy and the recent vote to subpoena President Trump in relation to the January 6 riots at the Capital building.
Both candidates were asked if January 6 was an attack on democracy and if Trump should be subpoenaed.
Ryan says Trump should respond to the subpoena.
"If he has nothing to hide, we should come clean and find out what's going on," Ryan said.
Ryan says the riot at the Capital was a threat to democracy and an attempt to stop the peaceful transition of power. He went on to criticize Vance with those who were at the riot.
Vance says he isn't looking to give Trump legal advice, but describes the January 6 Committee as a team of "political hitjobs" and criticized Ryan for criticizing the violence against police on January 6, but not during June of 2020 during riots in support of George Floyd.
Ryan says the reason January 6 needs to be looked into was because it was an attempt to overthrow the peaceful transition of power.
The next topic discussed was gun control and red flag laws.
Vance says no convicted felon should be allowed to buy firearms, but blames the recent surge in gun violence on criticisms and riots against police.
Ryan says he too supports the second amendment, but says we need to end the gun show loophole and stop the sale of "weapons of war." He also criticized Vance for allegedly stating that Alex Jones is "one of the most credible news sources in the country" even after Jones claimed that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax.
Vance denies ever saying this and says an important part of the solution to end school shootings is to arm teachers and make sure violent criminals are locked up. Vance then criticized Ryan for supporting the elimination of cash bail.
"Ending cash bail is on the far left of his own party and is the very sort of things that makes communities less safe," Vance said.
Police and race.
The next topic discussed was qualified immunity and holding police accountable.
Vance says he believes we already have proper protections to ensure bad police officers are not able to continue to serve and says ending qualified immunity will only increase violent crime because ending qualified immunity will make police even more scared to do their jobs.
Ryan says there needs to be a national discussion about police officers who don't like their jobs and those who no longer want to go into the police force.
"I think that we need to provide the kind of leadership to start the healing process," Ryan said.
The final topic discussed was immigration and "the great replacement theory" which suggests that whites will no longer be the majority if immigrants continue to come into the country.
Vance says he believes Democratic leadership is very explicit about wanting more and more immigration to ensure Republicans can never win another election and states that his view has nothing to do with whites vs. non-whites stating that his wife is a legal immigrant.
"Your introduction to this country should not be breaking its laws. You should come in through the proper channels," Vance said.
"You can believe in the border without being racist. You can believe in this country without being racist," Vance continued.
Ryan says the theory is "nonsense" and the theory is based in "the most racially divisive writings in the history of the world" and accused Vance and other Republicans of further pushing a racial divide in America.
Vance ended the debate by stating that Ryan has been in office for 20 years and accused him of doing little to help those in his district claiming he only passed five bills during this career including three that "renamed post offices."
"My argument here is I want you to have a better life, and you're not going to get a better life from federal leadership until we take this country in a different direction," Vance said.
Ryan ended by stating that we need to get jobs back locally at places such as Ultium and natural gas power plants.
"We've worked hard ... to bring economic development back here, and it's a shame that someone running for Senate wants to come to Youngstown and trash all the hard work that we've done together over the last 20 years," Ryan said.
If you missed any part of the debate, you can watch it in its entirety on 21 News's official YouTube Channel.
The debate took place at Stambaugh Auditorium and was hosted by WFMJ-TV.