Tim Ryan says having Midwest 'in my bones' an advantage in 2020 race

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Newly declared presidential candidate Rep. Tim Ryan says he’s “pretty confident” he’ll make the stage at the upcoming Democratic primary debates.

And the eight-term Democratic congressman from northeast Ohio – one of the few candidates in the large 2020 field to hail from the Midwest – spotlighted that he has the heartland “in my bones,” which he thinks may give him a political advantage in the race for the Democratic nomination.

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Ryan declared his candidacy last week, relatively late compared with most of his rivals for the nomination. The first round of debates hosted by the Democratic National Committee is in late June. To make the cut, candidates have to receive at least 1 percent support in three DNC-approved polls and bring in contributions from at least 65,000 unique donors -- with a minimum of 200 donors from at least 20 states.

Ryan – campaigning in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire on Wednesday night for the first time as a declared candidate – said he’s confident he’ll hit the criteria.

“I think we’re going to get on that stage. I’m pretty confident we will. But we’ll see. We’ve got two months and we’re out kicking it,” he stressed in an interview with Fox News.

Ryan, along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, are the only 2020 Democratic contenders from the Midwest.

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Touting his ability to win the Midwestern states that vaulted Republican Donald Trump into the White House in 2016, Ryan explained that “being from Ohio, we’re going to win Ohio. Western PA is critical to winning Pennsylvania. Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa – very culturally similar to Ohio. So I think we can make that happen.”

“A lot of it’s going to come down to message. Are you talking about the jobs, the wages, the health care, the pensions, the bread and butter issues of moving us from the old economy to the new economy? Can you convincingly pitch that to people? Then you’re going to have a shot in the Midwest,” he added.

Asked if the candidates from the coasts can resonate in the heartland, Ryan answered “to be determined. I mean that’s the race.”

But he emphasized that the Midwest “is a unique area of the country that has been left behind. This has been my life. This has been my family that have lost jobs starting four years ago when Youngstown Sheet and Tube closed to two weeks ago when General Motors shut down and my family and our friends and our community felt that devastation. So this is in my bones. I’m not sure anybody knows it as well as I do or has lived this like I have.”

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“So that’s an advantage politically I guess,” he noted before adding “I wish that none of that had ever happened.”