COLUMBUS (WCMH/AP) — President Donald Trump is predicting a “tremendous victory” for Ohio state Sen. Troy Balderson, who is running in Tuesday’s special election for an open congressional seat.
Trump promoted other Republican officeholders and candidates in Ohio as he rallied supporters Saturday night at Olentangy Orange High School north of Columbus. Trump called Balderson “the guy who will do things” and dismissed Balderson’s Democratic opponent, Franklin County recorder Danny O’Connor, as a person nobody knows.
Trump also brought to the stage Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, calling him “a tough cookie.” The crowd chanted “speaker of the House,” a reference to the possibility that Jordan will seek the speakership after November’s midterm elections. Several former Ohio State wrestlers have accused Jordan of turning a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse when he was a coach.
Truck driver and Trump supporter Rob LaPat is attending his first Trump rally. The 46-year-old LaPat says he likes the fact the economy is doing well and unemployment is down.
A few dozen protesters are lined along a walkway outside the school holding signs that say “Impeach 45” and “Real News Fake President.” Trump critic Susan Lindquist says she’s trying to change one person’s mind at a time about the president, who she says is destroying the country.
The rally comes hours after Trump denounced arguably Ohio’s favorite native son, basketball superstar LeBron James, who just opened a school for underprivileged children there.
Trump previewed his message for the Columbus-area rally with a tweet saying that while Balderson “is strong” on issues like crime and immigration, “his opponent is a puppet of Nancy Pelosi/high taxes.” Pelosi, who would become speaker if the Democrats flip control of the House in November, has long been a Republican target.
A Monmouth University poll released this past week showed the central Ohio race tightening, leaving Republican Troy Balderson with just a 1-point edge. The survey found 46 percent of likely voters approved of Trump, while 49 percent disapproved.
Vice President Mike Pence visited the area last Monday.