Congressman Tim Ryan joined me this morning:
HH: Right now, I’m joined by a friend. He’s a Democrat, but he’s still a friend. How can you not like someone who grew up in your hometown and went to your high school? Congressman Tim Ryan is a misguided Democrat, but a wonderful guy. And it’s a little bit awkward, Congressman, because I’ve been telling people this is the headquarters of Republicans For Bernie in the primary, because I want Bernie to get nominated so we can crush him. You kind of scare me. Your kind of Democrat scares me. And are people hearing that out there?
TR: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I’m up in New Hampshire right now. I’ve been to Iowa, obviously, come from Northeast Ohio, and spend most of my time there. And I think most Democrats are looking to get the country back together, unify the country. Most people know workers haven’t been cut in on the deal the last 30 years. But they’re not hostile to business. They know that business is essential. You know, we probably have a different philosophy on how to get there, but you know, we don’t want to be hostile to business. And I think that’s the difference.
HH: I had the most interesting caller in the first hour, Tim Ryan, a heavy equipment operator from Columbus who voted for President Trump, but is going to support Bernie because of health care. And I wonder if you find, and it’s an Ohio voter, right? Ohio went big for Trump. And you survived quite nicely in counties that have never voted for a Republican, Mahoning and Trumbull, that voted for Trump. So do you find Trump voters who connect with Tim Ryan who might not give a Democrat from the far left end of the spectrum a shot?
TR: No question. I mean, it all, it’s all about what we’re focusing on, what issues do we focus on. And if we focus on economics, wages, economic security like pensions, health care, the concerns that everyday workers have, then you know, those workers who went for Trump because of the way he talked about trade, he did talk about raising the top rate on people, he did talk about expanding health care. So I think they felt comfortable. They saw him more as an independent than a Republican. And you know, if he hasn’t delivered on those things like the gentleman from Columbus said, they’ll come back home if we have the right candidate.
HH: Yeah, I’ve always thought that President Trump is in a coalition government with my party. He’s not really a Republican or a Democrat. He’s Donald Trump. He’s a party of one, but he’s unique, and he’s uniquely attractive to people who have been disrupted by the changes in the international economy, and by people who don’t believe that the previous administration took national security seriously, and by people like me who care about judges. So Tim Ryan, you’ll destroy the judiciary, though, won’t you, if you become the president? You’ll appoint liberals to the Supreme Court that will destroy my fundamental rights, won’t you?
TR: You know, I probably have a different view on that. I think it’s important for us to have judges that protect rights across the board. And you know, that’s for another day. But we can have a, certainly have a deep dive conversation on that should I announce. And if I get closer to winning, and then when I win, and then I will have the power to appoint, Hugh, I will have you over to hear your views.
HH: That’s all I can ask. But what I really appreciate, you and a few others, John Delaney, a few others, have come on the show already. Some Democrats won’t return my phone call. And I don’t actually think they’re campaigning to be president of the whole country if they won’t talk to conservatives, Tim Ryan. And you’re willing to do that.
HH: And I love that.
TR: I will tell you that if I run, I will not be running for tribal chief of one particular tribe or the other. I would run to be president of the United States. That includes everybody in the country and people who don’t even vote for me. I think we’ve got to unify the country, Hugh. You know it and I know it. There’s no way we’re going to be able to tackle the issue of China, the issue of climate change, the issue of inequality, cutting middle class worker back in on the deal if we’re not all together. And it doesn’t mean we’re always going to agree, but we need to come back together and say look, any division is the enemy at this point, you know? I mean, you look at Russia and how they attack our social media, they find the cultural rifts that we have in our society.
HH: Every day.
TR: And they throw gasoline on them.
HH: Every day. I can spot the troll every day on my Twitter feed, and I know they’re a GRU plant. I mean, I just know what they do. They’re all over the Smollett case right now. And they’re going to be all over this white racist in Maryland who had an arsenal in his basement. That’s just what they do. But Tim Ryan, you’re a quarterback. People don’t know this about you. You’re not used to hesitating, right? You’ve got to make decisions. When are you going to decide? I mean, you’ve got to get in. The first debate is, I’m going to talk to Chuck Todd next hour, the first debate’s in June. You’ve got to meet some metrics to be on the stage. When are you going to get in? And if you get in, can you meet those metrics?
TR: Well, I’m going to count on you, Hugh, to help me get 65,000 independent donors to my campaign. So I’ll come back on the show and let you help me out with that.
TR: But you know, you can’t get into a game without a game plan and knowing that you have an opportunity to win. And those are the conversations I’m having now. We’re getting around New Hampshire. We’re talking to people. And you know, we’re going to continue to have those conversations. I mean, Bill Clinton didn’t get into the race until October in the 1992 race. And so I think we’ve got a little bit of time.
HH: You can’t miss that June debate, though, can you? I mean, you really cannot not be on the stage when it starts and expect to get on the stage later. I don’t think so, at least.
TR: Well, I think that’s correct.
HH: So if you’ve got to get, is the metric 65,000 individual donors?
TR: It’s, yeah, it’s 65,000 small dollar donors, and I think $200 dollars from 20 different states.
HH: Well, you can do the $200 dollars from 20 different states. That’s easy. But do people, you know, it’s interesting to me, the mayor of South Bend’s getting a lot of press because he’s interesting. And then John Delaney gets none. And you’re somewhere in the middle of the underdogs. But you, you’ve got a different profile from all these other Democrats. Are people noticing that? And are media, especially, you know, my home base of MSNBC on television, is, I haven’t seen you there a lot. What gives?
TR: You have not seem me there a lot?
TR: Oh, okay.
HH: I only watch Morning Joe. That’s why, because you know, I’m on, Morning Joe’s in front of me right now so you must not be getting up early.
TR: I was on Morning Joe on Monday. I was on Al Sharpton on Saturday, and I was on Chuck Todd on Thursday or Friday. So I feel like I’ve been on there a little bit.
HH: Okay, that’s good.
TR: …in the last week or so.
HH: That’s good.
TR: And you know, we’re continuing to do it. And really, here’s the message, Hugh, that I think we have all got to wrap our minds around. We’ve got an industrial revolution happening right now. It’s around artificial intelligence. It’s around additive manufacturing. We can’t run from it. I mean, we saw back home in Northeast Ohio what happens when you run from what’s going to be the future.
TR: I mean, we got clobbered with globalization and automation. We’ve got to embrace these technologies. We’ve got to invest into the new technologies, and get them plugged into the old industries. And we will dramatically increase productivity in the country. And then you cut the worker in on the deal. That’s the future of the American economy. How does the worker…
HH: Well then, what are you going to do? Last question, Congressman, and come back.
HH: You’ve got new colleagues who are energetic and smart and bright like AOC, and they basically just killed Amazon coming to Long Island City. You know what we would do to get Amazon to the Valley, right? We’d…
HH: We’ll move out of the house, right? You can have our house. You can stay here for free.
HH: So what do you tell your colleagues from job-rich areas about places that would die for a job like that about an actual industrial policy, and your colleagues killed it?
TR: Well, I immediately wrote a letter to Jeff Bezos and said you need to come to Youngstown. And I made the argument for being by Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Case Western Reserve, Carnegie Mellon. I made that argument. This is what I mean. We cannot be hostile to business. It doesn’t make any sense. You can be hostile to greed. You can be hostile to income inequality. You can be hostile to workers not benefiting from productivity increases. And we need policies to change that, and we’d probably argue and fight, you and I, about how exactly to do that. But we need to do that. But you can’t green the economy, reverse climate change, without the free enterprise system.
HH: You hear back from Bezos?
TR: I have not. If you know him, let him know.
HH: Man, he ought to be all over that, because they’re finding Nashville is a wonderful place to have a hub. And if not HQ2, they could put a hub in Youngstown, and you’re exactly right. What they’re looking for, the high tech kids…
HH: They’re just coming out Youngstown State, the Penguins, and they’re coming out of Case. They’re coming out of Cleveland State, and of course, The Ohio State University. So I want to give a last minute to you. When you go out to New Hampshire, who are you connecting with? I mean, who’s showing up at the Tim Ryan rally?
TR: Well, we’ve been doing a bunch of meetings. I met with the mayor of Manchester. I met with the mayor of Nashua. I met with some union leaders here and some activists here, and you know, just continuing to do that. I’ve spoken to a handful of countywide dinners here and got a very, very warm reception.
HH: Got a website, yet?
TR: No, not yet. Uh-uh.
HH: You know, 65,000, we’ve got to go find them. I’ll help you do that, even though we’re headquarters of Bernie, Republicans For Bernie in the primaries. We’ll all…
TR: We’re building a coalition for the future, Hugh. We can do this together. We’ve got China breathing down our neck. This is what I’m trying to get everybody focused on. We’re so distracted. China is coming at us. Look at, you’ve probably seen this, but have your listeners look at a map of the new Silk Road initiative.
HH: Oh, my gosh.
TR: Their belt and road initiative.
HH: Belt and road, yeah.
TR: Look at, I just looked at one yesterday again. There’s a railroad that goes from Northeast China to Rotterdam, okay?
TR: They are plugging into Europe. They’re plugging into the Middle East. They’re buying long-term…
HH: They wanted Greenland. They tried to buy Greenland and luckily, we stopped that. But Tim Ryan, come back again. Every week you want, we’ll get you to 65,000 donors, because I want you on that stage, because someone from Northeastern Ohio has to represent, and you’d be great to do that. Thank you, my friend.
TR: Thanks, Hugh.
HH: And it’s not Sherrod Brown. It’s not Sherrod Brown. He’s not the Buckeye you think he is, America.
End of interview.