Oct 12, 2022 - Politics

How Ohio's first Senate debate impacts the election

Side-by-side photos of Ohio Senate candidates Rep. Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance speaking.

Ohio Senate candidates U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Republican author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance. Photos: Justin Sullivan, Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Amid a tenacious campaign clouded by a plethora of attack ads, Senate candidates J.D. Vance and Rep. Tim Ryan gave voters the opportunity to examine their stances on key issues in their first debate Monday night.

Driving the news: Vance's campaign website states he is "100 percent pro-life," but his answers were more nuanced.

  • He said there should be a "minimum national standard" for how late into a pregnancy a person can receive abortion services, but abortion laws should be set by states.
  • Vance said he believes in exceptions in situations like that of the 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped and had to travel out of state to receive an abortion. He then quickly switched gears, blaming the example on illegal immigration.

Reality check: The 10-year-old's case is not a rare exception.

  • In 2020, one girl under the age of 15 received an abortion per week on average in Ohio.

What they're saying: "He is 100% pro-life, but has always maintained support for reasonable exceptions like in the tragic case of the young girl he referenced [Monday] night," a Vance campaign spokesperson tells Axios.

The other side: Ryan said he supports codifying Roe v. Wade.

What's more: Ryan, who has represented Ohio in Congress for nearly 20 years, has spent his campaign trying to win over moderate Republicans. On Monday, he did this by criticizing Democratic leadership.

  • Ryan said he has disagreed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden, while at times agreeing with former President Donald Trump.
  • He also said that he wants to see a "generational change" with national politicians and does not want President Biden to run again in 2024.

Of note: Ryan stayed after the debate to field questions from the media. Vance did not.

  • Vance's spokesperson tells us the candidate "traveled to a nearby watch party where he celebrated with supporters and volunteers" after the debate.
  • Ryan's campaign did not respond for comment.

What's next: The Senate race remains neck-and-neck as early voting begins today, with another debate scheduled between Vance and Ryan on Monday.


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