Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Trump plays attack dog for Bernie Moreno as Ohio’s GOP Senate primary ends on a vicious note

By 37ci3 Mar16,2024

VANDALIA, Ohio – Ohio’s Republican Senate primary is underway it is already a lowly and confusing businesscruel care towards a dense and bitter end.

And then Donald Trump came to town.

The former president tapped into a Saturday-afternoon rally to bolster Bernie Moreno despite losing support. three months ago The GOP failed to distance itself decisively from its opponents.

Trump was on the offensive after riling the crowd against state Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians. The emergence of Dolan as Moreno’s strongest rival, highlighted in the last week Endorsements by Gov. Mike DeWine and former Sen. Rob Portman have bolstered different battle lines: MAGA and Ohio’s old conservative establishment seem moderate compared to Trump’s policies.

In a 90-minute speech at Dayton International Airport, Trump called Moreno a “fantastic guy” and described Dolan as a “RINO,” or Republican in name only.

“Bernie is fighting a weak RINO named Matt Dolan. He’s trying to be the next Mitt Romney,” Trump said, referring to the Utah senator, who was the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and is now a prominent critic of Trump. “I think Mitt Romney is his hero.”

Trump reminded the crowd Dolan ran away, unsuccessfully, as a Democrat for a state legislative seat more than 30 years ago. Trump also complained that the Dolan family’s Major League Baseball franchise was changing its name from the Indians to the Rangers in 2021 amid concerns that the old name was offensive to Native Americans.

“He was easily pushed around by the woke left-wing lunatics who changed the name of his family’s baseball team,” said Trump, who polled viewers about his views on the rebranding and reacted strongly in favor of the old name. “My attitude is that anybody who changes their name from the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guards shouldn’t be a senator.”

Dolan’s father is Larry principal owner of the team and his brother Paul serves as CEO. Although he works closely with the team, Dolan said he had nothing to do with the name change.

Trump did not refer to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the third-place candidate in the GOP primary.

Moreno, a political novice and former car salesman, hopes to win Trump’s support in a general election race against Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of the most vulnerable Democrats on the ballot this fall. Trump’s appearance – three days before the primary meeting and less than two weeks after a source close to the former president said the Ohio rally was “very difficult” for Moreno – created the sense that another salesman was called in to seal the deal.

Bernie Moreno, Matt Dolan and Frank LaRose
Bernie Moreno, Matt Dolan and Frank LaRose at the final Ohio Republican Senate debate hosted by Miami University and produced by WLWT-TV on March 6 in Cincinnati.Jason Houston / Courtesy WLWT

The results of Tuesday’s primary could have profound consequences for Trump in a state he twice won by 8 points. If Moreno wins, Trump can take credit for leading an inexperienced candidate to victory. If Moreno loses, Trump will face questions about the value of his support in tough races, such as the first competitive 2024 Senate primary, where he has picked a favorite.

Few independent polls have been conducted on the race, but two requests showed during the last week tight race Between Moreno and Dolan. The hostile nature of the race increased after Friday The Associated Press reported a potential connection Moreno’s email address and account with Adult Friend Finder, a website known for arranging sex.

The AP did not confirm that Moreno opened the account and did not cite a letter provided by Moreno’s attorney, which the campaign also provided to NBC News, saying former intern Dan Ricci “created the account in question.” “joked” and apologized “to him and his family for any harm this stupidity has caused them.”

NBC News has not independently confirmed the report. Ricci did not respond to a request for comment.

“The email address in question was not Bernie’s personal email address, but an email address that appeared on company websites and literature and was managed by employees,” Moreno’s attorney, Charles Harder, told NBC News. “A lot of people, including this intern, had access to it. Bernie Moreno had nothing to do with the AFF account. According to the metadata, the AFF account was never used – there were no links or communications sent to or from any other AFF accounts, and no images or content uploaded to it. “The AFF account existed for less than half a day 16 years ago.”

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung issued a statement defending Moreno and calling the AP report “disgraceful.” And Andrew Cornu, founder of Adult Friend Finder, Posted on X on Saturday after his own investigation found the situation “consistent with a joke or someone just checking the site”.

But according to the AP, the unveiling of the account, which has been rumored among GOP operatives for weeks to attract “young people,” opened late for opponents to argue that Moreno’s candidacy would ensure Brown’s re-election. election.

A new announcement The AP report released Friday by the Buckeye Leadership Foundation, tailored to Dolan, highlights some of the most damning aspects. The 30-second spot was scheduled to air on statewide television and radio as part of the PAC’s existing advertising plan, said spokesman Chris Pack.

“Awful, huh? Moreno is damaged goods,” the narrator in the ad says before referring to a A democratic strategy for primary engagement With an ad promoting Moreno’s conservative positions. “That’s why Democrats are spending millions to support Moreno in the Republican primary so Sherrod Brown can defeat him in November.”

Dolan dodged questions about the AP report before a GOP luncheon in Salem, south of Youngstown, on Friday, saying he was unaware of the super PAC’s ad. Speaking to reporters after dinner, LaRose was more enthusiastic about solving the problem.

“I’ve said from the beginning that I don’t think Mr. Moreno is credible,” he said. “And I’m not going to say too much about it, you know, if it’s true, it’s a terrible thing for his family, and I keep them in our prayers.”

A source close to Moreno’s campaign said at least 10 television stations refused to air the Buckeye Leadership Fund ad following cease and desist notices from Moreno’s legal counsel. The candidate’s wife, Bridget Moreno, released a statement Saturday urging Dolan to denounce the ad. A spokesman for Dolan did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump briefly touched on the issue on Saturday.

“They’re doing a number of things about him,” Trump said, dismissing the article as “misinformation and disinformation.”

With $10 million in personal loans and millions more from friendly super PACs, Dolan launched an aggressive advertising campaign to promote his policy positions and attack his opponents. Dolan, a lawyer whose family owned cable television before buying Cleveland’s Major League Baseball, didn’t run away from Trump. But he did not approach her, admitting that he has a very different character. This opened it up to RINO attacks.

Although he did not mention Dolan by name at Saturday’s rally, Moreno mocked his opponent, noting that the debate over US border security should not distract from support for Ukraine. Confirmation from The Plain DealerThe Cleveland Gazette.

“You’re going to go to the polls on Tuesday and send a clear message to the swamp RINOs that they’re done,” Moreno told the audience.

LaRose, who entered the race with high name recognition thanks to two statewide election victories, struggled to compete with wealthy independents Dolan and Moreno on the money front. The secretary of state relied heavily on an allied super PAC to promote him, but that group, Leadership for Ohio, recently spent money. attack other candidates. Moreno and Dolan have been firing back at each other in recent days, ignoring LaRose.

“I mean, you always want to have more resources to get your message out,” LaRose said Friday after dinner in Salem. “But Ohioans know BS when they hear it.”

Voters and activists at Ohio GOP events throughout the week described a two-person race between Moreno and Dolan.

“I would say this is a defining time for the state of Ohio,” Moreno supporter Sherri Garner Brumbaugh said at this week’s Lake County Republican Party dinner in Eastlake, near Cleveland. “So we’re going to be traditional, old-school Republicans, or we’re going to rebrand ourselves as Republicans. I am looking for this change in Washington and Bernie Moreno will bring it.

Amy Sabath, a GOP operative who consulted with DeWine and Dolan and attended the same dinner, explained why she was partial to Dolan.

“The ultra-conservative vote will likely be split between Moreno and LaRose,” Sabath said. “But I’m hoping there’s a nice way for Dolan to get more of the middle, I don’t want to say ‘moderate Republicans,’ but maybe that’s a better word.” “I’ve always considered myself an ultraconservative Republican, but I just believe in the right candidate, and the right candidate is Dolan.”

The challenge for Dolan — putting together a winning coalition of GOP voters that includes those willing to move past Trump — was on display this week as he tried to woo voters in Aurora, near Cleveland.

“My heart says I will never vote Republican again until Trump is gone,” Reed Fuller told Dolan after the candidate knocked on his door Tuesday. “Sorry.”

Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin, who accompanied Dolan, tried to vouch for him.

“Well, he’s not a Trump guy,” he said.

“I know, I get it,” Fuller said. “Sorry. If I had to choose between the three, I’d go with you.”

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By 37ci3

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