In his caucus pitch to Iowans, Tim Ryan said working-class issues are 'in my bones'
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, comes to Iowa the day after announcing he's running for president. Des Moines Register
Rep. Tim Ryan's Monday stops in Iowa weren't campaign rallies or house parties — they were meetings with middle school staff, union members and state legislators.
That's because Ryan said he wants to highlight his policy positions, like improving education for low-income Americans and strengthening the working class, in his first few days on the 2020 presidential campaign trail.
"Working class issues are in my heart, in my mind, in my bones," Ryan said at an event Sunday night.
At the center of Ryan's campaign is his family and his understanding of working-class Americans, citing his family's background of blue-collar workers and small business owners.
Ryan hails from the Mahoning Valley in the northeastern part of Ohio, a historically Democratic region that swung hard toward Trump in 2016. He noted the hardships local constituents have faced, particularly with Ohio residents losing General Motors jobs and factories to overseas in China.
That's why competing with China — through workforce development and public-private partnerships — is so important to his campaign, he said.
"China is advancing, and this is not a conversation we're having in the country because the president has turned it into another personal battle that he's in around tariffs," Ryan said.
He talked about getting a skilled workforce better trained and ready with union plumbers and steamfitters at the Plumbers & Steamfitters' Local 33 training center Monday afternoon on a tour of the facility.
Getting young Americans into apprenticeships and workforce programs is one way for the U.S. to better compete with China, Ryan said. As he watched workers lower into manholes and practice welding, the representative said more high school graduates should be encouraged to take occupational training instead of taking on student loan debt.
"We have to have those degrees science, technology, engineering and math because we have to design and build the next innovation," he said. "But we also have to be the best in the workforce building those things that the people with the STEM degrees come up with."
If he won the White House, he would focus on competing with China and creating manufacturing jobs in growing industries, like electric vehicles, in the United States.
By 2030, he said 30 million electric vehicles will be manufactured and all of the production that surrounds the electric vehicle industry — from batteries to charging stations — should be in the United States.
Beyond cars, Ryan said he also wants to bring manufacturing for solar panels and wind energy technology back to the United States. He said 60 percent of solar panel manufacturing happens in China, and competing with the rising global leader will take more than tariffs.
To get companies to set up shop in the United States, incentives need to be built into the tax code, Ryan said. The private sector and venture capitalists should also play a part in policy discussions with governmental entities.
"We're not going to get there without profit motive and incentives," Ryan said.
His first stop Monday was at Callanan Middle School, where he met with teachers and staff about "social-emotional learning," which teaches children with trauma or behavioral problems how to better handle their emotions.
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Ryan talked with administrators in a classroom about helping low-income school districts through funding for S.E.L. programs as his wife, Andrea Ryan, who teaches in an elementary school, helped students working on an assignment.
"This is going to be the centerpiece of our education platform," he said.
As for winning over Iowans this caucus season, he said he enjoys "retail politics" and meeting constituents face-to-face.
"We'll be back a bunch," Ryan said.