The Senate race in Ohio is being closely watched, as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Republican venture capitalist J.D. Vance — nearly even in the polls — vie to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R).
During their first debate Monday night, Ryan and Vance threw barbs at one another. Ryan called Vance out for the company he keeps, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), "who wants to ban books," and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), "who wants a national abortion ban. You're running around with [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene, who's the absolute looniest politician in America," he added.
In return, Vance questioned why Youngstown "lost 50,000 manufacturing jobs during your 20 years," and accused Democrats of bad economic policy and weak border security. Ryan responded that as a venture capitalist, Vance invested in China, and "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 he does not remember investing in China.
On abortion, Vance declined to say whether he supports Graham's national 15-week abortion ban. He called himself "pro-life" and said "some minimum national standard is totally fine with me," but added that he "always believed in reasonable exceptions." Ryan said he opposes the Ohio law, blocked on Friday, that bans most abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. He is also in favor of codifying abortion rights.
Vance, who said earlier this year he doesn't "really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another," said he wants to see the U.S. have "a foreign policy establishment that puts the interests of our citizens first." Ryan responded that "if J.D. had his way, Putin would be through Ukraine at this point. He'd be going into Poland," to which Vance replied, "If I had my way, you'd put money at the southern border, Tim, instead of launching money into Ukraine."
Closer to home, Ryan said he wasn't afraid to push back against the Democratic Party, repeating an earlier comment that he doesn't think President Biden should run again in 2024. He chided Vance's silence when former President Donald Trump said during a September rally that "J.D. is kissing my ass, he wants my support so [much]." Trump took Vance's "dignity from him. He was called an ass-kisser by the former president. Ohio needs an ass-kicker, not an ass-kisser," Ryan said. Vance responded by saying it's almost Halloween, and Ryan "has put on a costume where he pretends to be a reasonable moderate."