May 4, 2022 - Podcasts

Ohio delivers a new face for Trump's political brand

In the closely-watched Ohio senate primary, J.D. Vance has emerged from a crowded Republican field as the GOP candidate, a win that could be evidence of former president Trump’s power headed into the fall.

  • Plus, activists and lawmakers ready their plans on abortion.
  • And, distrust of Asian Americans on the rise in the U.S.

Guests: Axios' Lachlan Markey and Eric Toda, member of the board of the Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH) and The Asian American Foundation's (TAAF) advisory council.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Alex Sugiura, and Lydia McMullen-Laird. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Wednesday, May 4th. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re watching today: activists and lawmakers ready their plans on abortion. Plus, distrust of Asian Americans on the rise in the U.S.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: Ohio delivers a new face for the Trump brand.

NIALA: The results from the 2022 Ohio and Indiana primaries are in and in a closely watched Ohio Senate race, Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance has emerged from a crowded Republican field as the GOP candidate, but how much evidence is this of former President Trump's power headed into the fall? Axios’ Lachlan Markay joins us now with what he's thinking about all of this. Hey Lachlan.

​​LACHLAN MARKAY: Hey, how’s it going?

NIALA: Lachlan, even though former President Trump endorsed JD Vance pretty late in the game, how much is this outcome about the former president?

LACHLAN: Yeah, it's hard to separate any Republican primary contest from Donald Trump right now. He's the proverbial elephant in the room. So, there have been questions about the enduring power of his endorsement. And like you say, he got into this one late. But, he will undoubtedly be trumpeting it as a victory, as will his allies.

And, uh, you know, it's not just that his candidate, JD Vance prevailed, but also that the one candidate who is seen as sort of the standard bearer for Republican Trump critics or, you know, anti-Trump or post-Trump people, uh, state Senator Matt Dolan, looks to be fairing, not particularly well, a disappointing showing.

NIALA: What other impacts does JD Vance's win have on the Republican party and its message?

LACHLAN: Well, just ideologically, he's not in the mold of the traditional sort of post-Reagan Bush era, Romney era Republican. He's a much more populist candidate, um, you know, to take a particularly high-profile recent event on the war in Ukraine. He broke in a very big way from a lot of Republicans, including Republicans in congressional leadership, in saying literally “I don't really care what happens in Ukraine.” And it was a microcosm of how he could potentially shift the center of gravity in the Senate Republican conference, particularly if you see like-minded candidates of which there are a few prevailing in their own primaries in states like Arizona or Missouri or Alabama.

NIALA: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine also won his primary yesterday evening. What else does that say? And what else do we need to know about what happened last night in Ohio?

LACHLAN: Well unavoidably, we have to bring it back to Donald Trump. Um, he did not endorse in that race, but DeWine was seen as not necessarily distancing himself from Trump, but not actively courting his endorsement. Unlike it should be noted his top primary opponent, Jim Renacci, who very actively did that. So the fact that he prevailed not just prevailed, but by what looks to be a very large margin, you know, it's not a repudiation of Donald Trump necessarily, but it is a sign that a Republican can win a statewide race in a state that's trending Republican, like Ohio is without necessarily, wrapping his arms around Donald Trump. And that's something that, uh, for instance, Brian Kemp in Georgia, will certainly be taking note of. He finds himself in kind of a similar situation.

NIALA: So what do you make of both of those things then, right? That JD Vance, perhaps former President Trump was the kingmaker there, but then also that didn't make a difference in the race for governor?

LACHLAN: Well, I think the Vance win is a win for Donald Trump in that he gets to say, “I endorsed him and then he won.” But it's also true that by the time Trump endorsed Vance, he was very much on the upswing in the polls, in momentum, in you know, in money raised. And so, as much as I expect President Trump to be, to be coming out today talking about how his endorsement was the causal factor here and it was what put Vance over the top, by the time Trump got on board, I think it was pretty clear that Vance was the frontrunner. Now that's not to say you aren't going to continue to see candidates trying to get his endorsement in a Republican primary. It's a clear net benefit, but I do think that, um, you know, the DeWine case shows that it's not a necessary condition to be prevailing in a statewide primary.

NIALA: Axios political reporter, Lachlan Markay. Thanks, Lachlan.

LACHLAN: Thank you.

NIALA: For all the results out of Ohio AND out of Indiana last night, we’ll have links in our show notes.

In a moment, the political fallout from the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe v Wade.

[ad break]

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed yesterday the authenticity of the leaked draft opinion to end Roe v. Wade. But he said it was not the court’s final decision. And as the Supreme Court plans to investigate the leak, Democrats around the country reacted to the opinion.

Senator Elizabeth Warren joined protesters on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday and called on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: I have seen the world where abortion is illegal and we are not going back. [cheers] Not ever. So say it with me. We are not going back.

CROWD: We are not going back.

WARREN: Not ever.

CROWD: Not ever.

NIALA: President Biden also weighed in while boarding Air Force One -

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: If this decision holds, it’s quite a radical decision.

NIALA: Adding this could threaten other longstanding rights protected by the Court -

PRESIDENT BIDEN: It would mean that every other decision related to the notion of privacy is thrown into question.

NIALA: Meanwhile, in red and blue states both, lawmakers have been shoring up their positions.

In Oklahoma yesterday, Governor Stitt signed into law the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act. It’s modeled after the Texas abortion law which prohibits abortions as early as six weeks - before most women know they’re pregnant. Like the Texas bill, it also allows private citizens to sue abortion providers. And 17 Democratic governors sent a letter to Congress yesterday urging lawmakers to pass legislation guaranteeing abortion rights under federal law.

A new report out this morning shows American distrust of Asian-Americans is rising. 21% of American adults say Asian Americans are at least partially responsible for COVID-19. That's almost double what it was in 2021. More than one third say they believe Asian-Americans are more loyal to their country of origin than to the United States. That's up from 20% last year. And even though anti-Asian violence has been on the rise, the report shows that one third of Americans are unaware of this.

Eric Toda is a board member of the nonprofit Leading Asian-Americans to Unite for Change, and an advisory council member of the Asian-American Foundation, which are behind the report. Eric, did this information surprise you?

ERIC: No, not at all, a lot of people thought that this was mostly fueled by a certain presidential administration. We're in a completely different one, and we're seeing attacks on the rise. We're seeing xenophobia on the rise, but the truth of the matter is this has always existed from the Chinese Exclusion Act of the 18 hundreds to the internment camps in the 1940s to the murder of Vincent Chin and the eighties. This has always been a part of the fabric of the United States. And so what all this data does is to shine a light on not a moment in time, but rather a period of- mostly very unsettling- trends of anti-Asian behavior and racism brought towards, uh, our community. So, no, I don't think this is surprising at all. In fact, it's just more enlightening. So then we can address these issues head on.

NIALA: How do you see us begin to address this?

ERIC: It's about education. And I grew up in California, my dad grew up in California, his dad grew up in California, so I'm probably more American than most people, to be honest with you. But I, you know, when I opened my history books, when I was in school, I didn't see anything about what I just spoke about. I saw, yes, I saw gold rush, I saw slavery, saw the concentration camps in the Holocaust, but never did I see anything about my own people and people that look like me. So therefore, to the kids that don't look like me, ‘Hey, you're not in here. You're probably not American.’ So I do think education is definitely a root cause, because that breeds empathy and that breeds perspective, which honestly I think needs to be had and shared more right now.

NIALA: Eric Toda is a board member of LAAUNCH, Leading Asian-Americans to unite for change and an advisory council member of The Asian-American foundation. Thanks, Eric.

ERIC: Thank you so much

NIALA: That’s all we’ve got for you today! Text me your feedback and story ideas: I’m at (202) 918-4893.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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