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Trump Stumps For Balderson Ahead Of 12th District Special Election

President Trump supporters joined a line snaking almost half a mile on Saturday afternoon, hoping to make it into the Olentangy Orange High School gym for the president’s rally. Inside, supporters fanned themselves with “Make America Great Again” and “Women for Trump” signs as the air conditioning struggled to keep up with the throng.

Trump threw this pep rally to campaign for Troy Balderson, the Republican candidate for Ohio’s 12th congressional district. Trump implored the audience to turn out for Balderson on Tuesday, when he’ll face off against Democrat Danny O’Connor in a special election.

“To continue our incredible success, we must elect more Republicans and we must elect Troy Balderson," Trump told the chanting crowd. “So get your friends, get your neighbors, get your family and get out and vote for Troy on Tuesday."

Turn out will prove important, as the race between Balderson and O’Connor has tightened in recent weeks. A recent poll gave Balderson an advantage of just one point, in a district that's been solidly Republican for the past four decades.

Tuesday's election will determine who finishes out the term for former Rep. Pat Tiberi, who stepped down at the beginning of the year. Balderson and O’Connor will face off again in November to see who holds the seat moving forward.

Addressing the crowd, Balderson embraced Trump’s economic vision.

“In just a short period of time since his election, President Trump has lowered taxes, brought unemployment to an all-time low, and the stock market is roaring,” Balderson said. “I’m going to fight alongside him to continue this economic success. I promise.”

At 3.9 percent, U.S. unemployment is quite low, but not the lowest ever.

Balderson also promised to maintain benefits for seniors.

“President Trump will protect your Social Security and Medicare, and I’ll fight alongside him to make sure the benefits you were promised are there for you,” Balderson said.  

Credit Nick Evans / WOSU
Troy Balderson, the GOP candidate for Ohio's 12th congressional district, is facing a tighter-than-expected contest on Tuesday.

Besides promoting Balderson, the president spent much of the night celebrating his trade policies. When the president imposed steel and aluminum tariffs earlier this year, the move was meant to support manufacturers in states like Ohio by punishing countries like China that dump substandard product into the market.

Now, Trump says steel companies are re-investing and creating jobs.

“Because we’ve stopped the dumping,” Trump said. “If they want to dump, you know what, that’s fine but they have to pay a 25 percent tax. It’s amazing what impact that has on people that want to rip-off and destroy our industries.”

But tariffs placed on American goods in retaliation have put added pressure on farmers in the state—particularly those who grow soybeans. In 2017, Ohio was the seventh biggest producer of the crop in the country.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.