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Ohio's Tim Ryan drags J.D. Vance over Trump taking his dignity

Ryan, an Ohio congressman vying to become a senator, explains to voters why Vance, whom Trump belittled at a recent rally, is a bad fit for the state.

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I’ve been a bit quiet on Democratic Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan’s Senate campaign this election season

Watching it unfold, I’ve found myself occasionally impressed by his seemingly authentic exchanges with voters and simultaneously unnerved by his constant — and, I feel, problematic — invocation of China as a boogeyman. 

Time will tell whether these things win him a Senate seat. But I do see Ryan as a political tactician, and I give credit where credit is due: Ryan flayed GOP nominee J.D. Vance in their debate Monday. 

Vance, a former Trump hater turned Trump suck-up, has become a friend of the MAGA movement despite previously comparing Trump to Hitler. In what was arguably the most memorable exchange of the debate, Ryan described Vance’s servility to Trump in vivid detail, recalling how Trump told rallygoers about Vance wanting his endorsement.

“J.D. is kissing my ass, he wants my support so much,” Trump said while pointing at Vance during a rally in Youngstown last month. Only after portraying Vance as a pitiful toady did he get around to introducing the candidate and bringing him onstage. 

Monday’s debate showed that Ryan wants to make sure Ohio voters never forget that moment. Ryan said Vance showed that he’s a shill to rich power brokers, be they Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel, who’s a Vance associate. 

Said Ryan: “Here’s the thing that’s most troubling about this lack of courage, is that 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 [and] taking pictures saying, ‘Hey, aren’t we having a great time here tonight?’”

Sticking the knife in a little deeper, the Democrat said he doesn’t know anyone he grew up with who would tolerate that kind of disrespect.

(Shout-out to the Acyn Twitter account for splicing the clips together.)

I think this is a strong attack line. In my view, dignity is one of the few things Trump has stolen from Republicans that they can’t replenish. Money lost can be made back again. Even when Trump supporters face losing their freedom after being charged with committing crimes on his behalf, he dangles pardons as a way for them to get that back.

But I think dignity is different. Almost irreparable.

Ryan was smart to put that on voters’ minds as we approach the midterms.