President Joe Biden made an election-year visit to an overwhelmingly Republican part of Ohio yesterday for the groundbreaking of a semiconductor plant that he promoted as evidence that his economic policies are working.
But his trip was punctuated by a fellow Democrat, Ohio Representative Tim Ryan, publicly questioning whether the party needed new leadership when asked if the 79-year-old president should run for re-election in 2024.
Biden travelled to Licking County near Columbus to speak at the site of Intel Corp’s new $20bn semiconductor manufacturing facility and hailed it as a sign of things to come.
“The future of the chip industry is going to be made in America,” he said. “The industrial Midwest is back.”
The trip is part of a White House pre-midterms push to tout new funding for manufacturing and infrastructure Biden’s Democratic Party pushed through Congress, while decrying opposition Republicans backed by former President Donald Trump as dangerous extremists.
Previous trips to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have landed the president in areas where Democrats already have strong support, but Licking County voted Republican 63% to 35% in the 2020 presidential election.
Democrats have lost Ohio in the past two presidential contests, but Republican Senator Rob Portman’s retirement may give Democrats a chance to pick up a Senate seat.
Some recent forecasts show Democrats favoured to maintain control of the Senate, after a series of wins in Congress.
But not all candidates welcome Biden’s campaigning support.
Ryan, who currently represents Ohio’s 13th congressional district, is running against Republican J D Vance, a venture capitalist and author of the book, Hillbilly Elegy, who has Trump’s backing.
Asked Thursday if Biden should seek a second term, Ryan told Youngstown, Ohio, network WFMJ, “My hunch is that we need new leadership across the board — Democrats, Republicans, I think it’s time for a generational move.”
Ryan, who has broken with the president on some issues, has not asked Biden to campaign with him in the state, but was present at the Intel groundbreaking for the president’s remarks.
Pressed later by reporters if Biden should run again, Ryan said that was up to the president. “The president said from the very beginning he was going to be a bridge to the next generation, which is basically what I was saying,” he said.
Trump’s political organisation announced on Monday that Trump will appear at a rally for Vance in Youngstown, Ohio, on Sept 17.

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