Polling at just one percent in nearly all the major early 2020 presidential polls, Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is hoping to break through on the debate stage Wednesday night by portraying himself as the one leader who faced hardships similar to most Americans.
"I'm just going to be myself. I know who I am, and where I come from, and I want to share that with the American people," Ryan told Cheddar at Rep. Jim Clyburn's "World Famous Fish Fry" in Columbia, South Carolina on Friday night.
A self-described capitalist, Ryan's 2020 stump speech has been for the worker. The district Ryan has represented for eight-terms, Ohio 13, is located in the northeast portion of the state, and includes working class, auto manufacturing cities like Lordstown and Youngstow, both of which have been crushed by changes in the industry. Ryan drew parallels between his constituents and the South Carolinian voters at Clyburn's event.
"This is a working class state, and our motto is 'JOBS, JOBS, JOBS,'" Ryan said. "I mean the best social program is a job, and we want to start building things again, and the communities I represent like Youngstown, Ohio look a lot like South Carolina."
In March, Ryan's district was hit hard when a massive GM manufacturing plant shuttered in Lordstown with nearly 1,700 hourly workers being sent home without a plan in sight.
But these hardships might help a presidential candidate understand the reality Americans face in 2019. Ryan wants to increase U.S. investment in electric vehicles and solar energy as a way to both go green and drive job growth.
On the debate stage Wednesday, Ryan intends to discuss what he has overcome (or is in the process of overcoming) as a way to level with the American people. "I come from a community that has seen job loss, has seen an opioid epidemic, that has seen an infant mortality epidemic, and the next president has got to deeply understand what the American people are going through."