Ryan fared well on CNN, but his presidential bid hasn’t caught fire

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan had an hour-long national forum – minus commercial breaks – to plead his case to be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.

Ryan of Howland, D-13th, did well during his CNN town hall. He made several points and appeared comfortable discussing policy.

He called for Congress to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

“If Donald Trump wasn’t president, if he was Tim Ryan or Matthew [the person who asked him the question] or an autoworker in Lordstown, Ohio, would you have prosecuted him?” Ryan said. “The answer I got a couple of days ago [from special counsel Robert Mueller] was yes, he would have. So I do believe we need to move forward with the impeachment process, and let me tell you why.

“When you think that the president has committed crimes and I have read the Mueller report and I believe [Trump] has obstructed on multiple occasions, we have a responsibility. I don’t want to. I know what this is going to do to the country. I take no joy in this at all, but I have a duty and a responsibility. And that duty and responsibility has led me to think we have to do this.”

But his appearance didn’t garner much national media attention, which his campaign desperately needs.

Also, the number of people who watched the town hall wasn’t spectacular.

Ryan was on from 7 to 8 p.m. as part of three straight town halls at the CNN Center in Atlanta with lesser-known Democratic presidential candidates.

Before him was U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and after him was U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California.

Average viewership for Moul-ton’s town hall was 368,000, it was 374,000 for Ryan and 401,000 for Swalwell, according to an article in the Washington Examiner, using Nielsen Media Research.

In comparison, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York had a town hall on Fox News at 7 p.m. Sunday, the same time Ryan was on CNN, and her average viewership was 834,000.

Fox News’ ratings are higher than CNN’s so it’s no surprise Gillibrand’s numbers were better. But her audience was more than twice as much as any of the three candidates on CNN.

Also, looking at the average viewership numbers for the three on CNN, Ryan didn’t take much of a hit – or any at all – having to go head-to-head with Gillibrand.

This is why Ryan’s campaign is working to get a town hall on Fox News. That would attract a much larger audience than his CNN town hall.

Another interesting point is of the four candidates who had live town halls Sunday on TV, Ryan is polling the highest, according to RealClearPolitics.com.

The website has Ryan’s average in polls at 0.5 percent compared to 0.3 percent for Gillibrand while Moulton and Swalwell don’t register at all.

Regarding the town hall, Ryan said, “I thought it was great. I got a super, super good response on it. We’re just building out. People are getting to know me. It was a great opportunity. We’re going to build on it.”

Ryan continues to focus his attention on Iowa and New Hampshire, the first states with a presidential caucus and a primary, respectively, and places that can make or break campaigns.

Ryan is among 19 Democratic presidential candidates who will speak Sunday at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids and then heads to Manchester, N.H., for a “Politics and Eggs” event Tuesday.

The latter is a strange New Hampshire presidential tradition in which candidates go to the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. They speak and sign wooden eggs.

Ryan’s campaign announced Wednesday that it hired Peter Mellinger as its New Hampshire state director.

Mellinger served as coordinated campaign director for the Nevada Democratic Party last year and in 2017 was the campaign manager for Susan Platt’s unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor in Virginia.

He has ties to New Hampshire having worked as organizing director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and he coordinated the state Democratic Party’s field and voter targeting efforts that year.

I’m not an expert on New Hampshire politics, but the hire drew the attention of someone who is.

Ray Buckley, the state’s Democratic chairman, tweeted: “This is HUGE game changing news for Ryan. Peter Mellinger is among the very best. Lead [sic] by Peter, the @nhdems fantastic grassroots operation delivered historic victories in 2016! #nhpolitics”

Ryan still has a long way to go to be a part of the national conversation on the top Democratic presidential candidates.

He’s in good shape to be at the first debate on June 26 and 27, and will probably make the second debate on July 30 and 31.

But as I wrote last week, the rules change for the third and fourth debates in September and October, and he’s in real danger of not qualifying for those.