Touting his ability to win the midwestern states that vaulted Donald Trump into the White House in 2016, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio on Thursday declared his candidacy for the presidency.
“I’m going to run for president of the United States,” Ryan said during an appearance on ABC's “The View.”
Ryan, who’s represented much of northeastern Ohio in Congress for nearly two decades, highlighted on his new campaign website his inspiration to launch a presidential bid.
“When our local GM factory was shut down last Thanksgiving, I got a call from my daughter who was consoling her friend whose father was an auto worker and was just laid off. My daughter said to me, with tears in her voice, ‘You have to do something,’” Ryan explained.
Ryan, who describes himself as a "lifelong Rust Belt native," said in his TV appearance that “I can win western PA, I can win Ohio. I can win Michigan. I can win Wisconsin. And that means Donald Trump is going back to Mar-a-Lago (the Florida resort owned by Trump) full time.”
And criticizing his own party, the congressman spotlighted that “we stopped going to rural America. We stopped going to these working-class towns.”
With many of his rivals for the Democratic nomination pushing progressive policies favored by the party’s activist class, Ryan pushed back against the perception that he’s a strictly centrist or moderate politician.
“I’ve got a really long record around progressive politics, especially when it comes to the economy. Voted against the Bush tax cuts. Voted against the Trump tax cuts. Believe in investment into lifting people up, closing the opportunity gaps that exist in our society,” he stressed.
The congressman highlighted that “I’m a progressive who knows how to talk to working-class people and I know how to get elected in working-class districts. Because at the end of the day the progressive agenda is what’s best for working families.”
But in an interview in February with Fox News, Ryan warned that his party has to be “very careful” not to appear too anti-business as it tries to win back the White House.
“I think we’ve got to be very careful. We come off sometimes as hostile to business,” he lamented as he spoke the day after self-proclaimed democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont launched his second straight White House campaign.
Asked by Fox News how he’d stand out in a large field of 2020 Democratic contenders including many with bigger names and bigger fundraising figures, Ryan pointed to his experience living in northeast Ohio, where he’s watched “this economic train wreck happen to my family, my friends, my community ... and in 16 years in Congress, I’ve been working extremely hard to rebuild these communities.”
Ryan gained national stature in 2016 as he launched an unsuccessful challenge to unseat Nancy Pelosi as Democratic House leader. The nine-term congressman also was one of the leaders late last year of the failed intra-party attempt to prevent Pelosi returning to the House speakership.
Ryan will formally launch his campaign Saturday in Ohio.