President Biden will have plenty of company from leading Ohio Democrats when he formally announces a plan on Wednesday to protect retirees’ pensions and prevent the cutting of benefits for millions of workers and retirees.
Joining the president in Cleveland, Ohio, will be Sen. Sherrod Brown, Reps. Shantel Brown and Marcy Kaptur, and Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb.
But the top two Democrats running for statewide office in this year’s elections — Senate nominee Rep. Tim Ryan and gubernatorial nominee Nan Whaley, the former Dayton mayor — will not be joining the president due to scheduling conflicts.
The president will showcase the launch of a program — created under his American Rescue Plan that passed through Congress last year — which the White House says will allow roughly two to three million workers and retirees who faced pension cuts because of investment losses to obtain the benefits they were set to receive in their retirement.
But Biden’s trip to Ohio — his sixth visit since entering the White House to a one-time crucial general election battleground state that’s trended red in recent cycles — comes as his approval ratings remain well underwater amid record high inflation and gas prices, which are feeding increased consumer anxiety. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Democrats, who hope to hold on to their razor-thin majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate in November’s midterm elections.
Ryan, the longtime populist congressman from northeast Ohio, is crisscrossing the state on the campaign trail this week with Congress on a brief July 4th holiday break. Ryan on Wednesday was stumping along the Ohio River in Jefferson, Meigs, and Athens counties in the southeastern part of the state, far from Cleveland.
During his speech hyping the American Rescue Plan and boosting unions, Biden gave mentioned Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate candidate. "While they couldn't be here, I also want to thank Senator Tim Ryan — future Senator Tim Ryan," Biden said, adding his thanks to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa.
The congressman’s Senate campaign highlighted that Ryan’s spent years working alongside Sen. Brown to pass the Butch Lewis Act, which was signed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan to provide the relief being announced by the president on Wednesday.
"Thanks to the persistence and dedication of Tim Ryan and Sherrod Brown, over 100,000 Ohioans will receive the pensions they earned over a lifetime of hard work. The fight is far from over, though, which is why instead of taking a victory lap on this historic win for Ohio workers, Tim is campaigning aggressively across the state to hear directly from Ohioans about the challenges they're facing, and to share how he'll fight like hell for them in the U.S. Senate," Ryan campaign spokesperson Izzi Levy told Fox News.
Ahead of Biden’s trip, GOP Senate nominee JD Vance took aim at both Biden and Ryan.
"Tim Ryan has consistently refused to stand up to Biden to protect Ohioans from his inflationary and job-killing economic agenda. Ryan has worked in lockstep with Biden to destroy our economy and Ohio’s middle class is suffering today because of it. But now, for the second time in two months, Ryan is refusing to be seen in public with his own party’s president," Vance said.
The Ryan campaign, pointing to some recent criticism of Vance from conservative commentators in Ohio that the Republican nominee’s been absent from the campaign trail since the state’s early May primary, fired back, claiming that Vance "feels ‘out of place’ in Ohio and has spent the last two months hiding in his home office rather than try to convince voters here that he's anything but a total fraud."
Whaley was spotlighting abortion rights — in the wake of the recent Supreme Court opinion overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling — as she campaigned and held meetings Wednesday in Dayton and Toledo, in the western portion of Ohio.
Even though Whaley wasn’t appearing with the president, the Republican Governor’s Association attempted to tie her to Biden.
"Gas prices remain sky high and inflation shows no signs of slowing thanks to Joe Biden's reckless policies that Nan Whaley cheers on and wants to bring to Ohio," RGA spokesman Chris Gustafson argued in a statement.