The two challengers to incumbent Governor Mike DeWine’s bid for the GOP nomination in 2022 had harsh words in the aftermath of President Joe Biden’s ‘town hall’ political event in Cincinnati Wednesday night.
But it wasn’t just complaints about Biden and his left-of-center agenda.
Biden covered familiar territory during the 75-minute show hosted by CNN, touching on the renewed vigor of the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus, economic issues, and whether the U.S. Senate should dump the procedural filibuster rule that requires a super-majority of votes before a bill can move to final debate and vote.
The inability of Democrats to gain cloture on several Biden-backed legislation – in particular the $1.2 trillion transportation, utilities and broadband infrastructure bill – came up yesterday at the forum and on the Senate floor as Republicans narrowly blocked the bill as work continues on how to pay for the bridges, roads, public transit, and other projects. A separate $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” that adds child care, Medicare expansion, and climate change funding to the mix also has stalled because of what conservatives have branded pork-barrel spending and programs advancing left-wing programs.
One project Biden identified as a potential beneficiary of the public works bill is the Brent Spence Bridge, a project Biden said carries traffic between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky on Interstates 71 and 75. But GOP gubernatorial contender Joe Blystone said Biden’s former boss, President Barack Obama, had suggested the same project as “shovel ready” in 2009 and later in 2011.
“This new infrastructure bill is a joke,” Blystone told The Ohio Star on Biden’s reference to the Cincinnati project.
“It didn’t get taken care of when Obama was president,” he added, “Will it get done this time? I don’t know.”
He urged Senate GOP negotiators, including Ohio’s Senator Rob Portman as a chief negotiator, to squeeze unnecessary projects out before allowing for a vote on the Senate floor. “I don’t think it should be passed until it’s just an infrastructure bill,” Blystone said. “We just keep on spending; where is it going to come from?”
Jim Renacci, a former four-term congressman also seeking the GOP nomination for governor, shifted the focus off Biden and squarely onto Republican opponent DeWine.
“There’s a reason why Joe Biden visits Ohio so often: he has a close friend in Mike DeWine,” wrote Renacci in a text to The Star.
Biden earlier this month named DeWine as co-chair of the presidential Council of Governors, a bipartisan panel of nine governors working with cabinet-level officials on national security issues. Renacci called this “serving in (Biden’s) administration.”
“Ohio voters strongly supported President Trump in 2020,” Renacci wrote, “but DeWine has tied himself to Biden.”
Through a spokeswoman, DeWine declined to comment on the Biden visit to Cincinnati when contacted by The Star.
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