Ryan gets into heated exchange during debate
By DAVID SKOLNICK
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan was initially quiet - practically ignored - during the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate, speaking about three minutes during the first 90 minutes.
He spoke a lot more during the final 30 minutes of Wednesday’s debate with the most memorable moment being a heated exchange with U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii over the nation’s military involvement overseas.
Ryan of Howland, D-13th, said that during his 17 years in the U.S. House he’s learned “you have to stay engaged in these situations. Nobody likes it. It’s long. It’s tedious. We must be engaged in this. We must have our State Department engaged. We must have our military engaged to the extent they have to be, but the reality of it is this president doesn’t even have people appointed in the State Department to deal with these things.”
He said the United States has “to be completely engaged” in places like Afghanistan “because these flare-ups distract us from the real problems in the country.”
Gabbard responded: “Is that what you’d tell the parents of those [two] soldiers killed” in Afghanistan?
Ryan said he doesn’t “want to be engaged,” but “the reality is if the United State is not engaged the Taliban would grow and we would have bigger, bolder terrorist acts.” He also said the Taliban “started flying planes into our buildings.”
Gabbard said: “The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11; al-Qaida did.”
Ryan said the Taliban protected “people who attacked us.”
Most of the questions from the moderators went to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts though a number of the candidates with lower polling numbers interjected points during the debate.
Overall, Ryan spoke for 7 minutes and 12 seconds, the sixth most of the 10 candidates, according to National Public Radio. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey had the most time at 10 minutes and 58 seconds.
Ryan scored points with the Miami debate crowd when he spoke about “a perception problem with the Democratic Party. We are not connecting to the working-class people in the very states that I represent in Ohio, in the industrial Midwest. We’ve lost all connection. We have got to change the center of gravity of the Democratic Party from being coastal, elitist and Ivy League, which is the perception to somebody from the forgotten communities that have been left behind for the last 30 years.”
Ryan also criticized Republican President Donald Trump for his immigration policy.
“If you go to Guantanamo Bay there are terrorists held who get better health care than those kids trying to cross the border into the United States,” he said. “That needs to stop. I think the president should immediately ask doctors and nurses to go immediately down to the border and start taking care of these kids. What kind of country are we running here when we have a president of the United States who’s so focused on hate and fear and division and what’s happening now is the end result is we’ve got kids literally laying in their own snot with three-week-old diapers that haven’t been changed.”
He added: “We’ve got to tell this president that is not a sign of strength. That is a sign of weakness.”
Ryan was on the debate stage in Miami with nine other Democrats vying to be the party’s 2020 presidential nominee: Booker, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, Gabbard, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Warren.
A second group of 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls will debate tonight.
On Tuesday, Ryan said the initial Democratic presidential debate was a key opportunity for his candidacy. “You’ve got to get people interested in the campaign. My biggest challenge is my name ID isn’t as big as other people. But at the same time, I’m polling the same as people with much higher name ID. There are people who are learning about me.”
The next debate is also a two-day event – July 30 and 31 – in Detroit with the top 20 Democrats qualifying: 10 candidates each night using the same random selection process for each night as the Miami debates.
So far, 21 Democrats qualify for the Detroit debates. Ryan appears safe to make the cut as of now based on his polling.
But the threshold for the third and fourth debates in September and October greatly grows. To get into those debates, a candidate needs at least 2 percent support in four qualifying polls between Friday and Aug. 28 and contributions from at least 130,000 unique donors with a minimum of 400 different donors in at least 20 states by Aug. 28.