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Donald Trump rallies support for Troy Balderson ahead of 12th District special election

August 5, 2018

Donald Trump rallies support for Troy Balderson ahead of 12th District special election

LEWIS CENTER, Ohio—President Donald Trump made a last-minute plea for 12th Congressional District voters to support Republican Troy Balderson, in what’s become the most competitive congressional race Ohio has seen in years.

In front of an overflow crowd of thousands of supporters in a high-school gymnasium in southern Delaware County, the president praised Balderson, a state senator from Zanesville, at length, saying, “He’s really tough. He’s really smart. He never stops working. ...He’s never going to let you down.”

The president also went after Balderson’s Democratic opponent, Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor. Among other things, Trump said that “A vote for ‘Danny Boy’ and the Democrats is a vote to let criminals and drugs pour into our country.”

In a statement, O’Connor campaign manager Annie Ellison said the Democrat spent Saturday launching volunteer canvasses and speaking to voters.

“That’s what our campaign is about, not petty name calling and outright lies from a politician like Troy Balderson who has made it clear where his loyalties lie,” Ellison stated.

Trump’s visit comes three days before Balderson faces O’Connor and Green Party candidate  Joe Manchik in the special election for the 12th District, which runs from Mansfield south to Columbus and east to Zanesville. Though the 12th District has been held by a Democrat for a total of two years since 1940, a recent poll shows O’Connor running just behind Balderson.

To win, Balderson needs a sizeable victory margin in Delaware County -- an affluent, red-leaning county that is home to about one-quarter of the district’s registered voters.

The president misconstrued media reports about how he briefly tweeted earlier this week urging people to “vote for Steve [Stivers] on Aug 7,” even though Stivers represents the 15th Congressional District and isn’t running in the 12th District special election.

Trump said he was “so angry when they said that I was supporting Steve Stivers.

“And I was!” the president continued. “It’s the wrong district. I support both of them. So I expect a big apology.”

Trump also gave a public show of support to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a Champaign County Republican who is running for speaker of the House next year amid allegations that he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse while he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University.

After Trump brought Jordan on stage, the president called the congressman “a brave, tough cookie.”

Trump added: “I didn’t know he was going to be here. I looked over and said, ‘I don’t want to wrestle him -- he’s tough.’”

Balderson hasn’t said whether, if elected, he intends to vote for Jordan as speaker. But the president urged the crowd to vote for Balderson because “he’s going to help Mark Meadows,” the North Carolina Republican who heads the House Freedom Caucus, which Jordan co-founded.

During his hour-long speech, Trump also said he has no room for error in the U.S. Senate to get Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump noted there are 51 Senate Republicans and said there is one Republican “not able to vote” – an apparent reference to U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

To get the needed 50 votes, then, Trump said, 100 percent of Senate Republicans need to back Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“How bad is that? How do you get 100 percent of anything?” Trump asked.

The president continued that GOP senators can “say bad things about me, but give the vote.”

Last month, Trump nominated Kavanaugh, who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said earlier this week he hopes to have Kavanaugh confirmed by early October.

Trump’s appearance in Ohio comes a day after he questioned ex-Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James’ intelligence in a tweet after James told CNN’s Don Lemon that the president is “using sports to kinda divide us, and that’s something that I can’t relate to. Sports has never been something that divides people.”

Trump tweeted, “Lebron (sic) James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron (sic) look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”

The president didn’t mention James during his speech Saturday night.

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