Portman says voters who don’t support Trump will still back him

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Produced by Lynn Hulsey

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Republican campaigned in area Tuesday for the second time in four days.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman signaled on Tuesday that he anticipates his supporters will split their votes across the major political parties and back him even if they don’t vote for the Republican Party’s controversial standard-bearer, presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Portman, R-Ohio, said voters know that in his race for re-election they are picking a senator, not the president.

“Voters get that. They can make that distinction between the presidential campaign and my campaign. That shows up in the polls,” said Portman, who supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the presidential primary but has now endorsed Trump. “

Portman is running nine points ahead of his Democratic opponent, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, while Trump is four points behind behind Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters released last week.

“In 2010 I ran ahead of the top of the ticket and my (U.S.) House races I always ran ahead of the top of the ticket,” Portman said during a tour of the Miamisburg training center of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18, which endorsed him.

“The notion that there are no ticket-splitters, that’s just not true. A lot of people split their votes,” Portman said. “I’ve done it before. They do it because they want to support a particular candidate for a particular race for particular reasons.”

Portman campaign Communications Director Michawn Rich said afterward that Portman’s point was that he had run better than the candidate top of the ticket, not that he has previously voted for a Democrat.

Portman said when he disagrees with Trump he says so “and you know I’ve had occasion to do that more than I would like.”

“He’s got his own thing that he’s doing,” said Portman. “You know he made some comments about a Muslim ban, for instance. I didn’t agree with that and I made it very clear why.”

Not only is it “against our very Constitutional foundation in this country,” said Portman, but it “won’t work. It’s not practical.”

“All I can do is focus on my issues and focus on areas of agreement and disagreement as they come up and let everybody know where I stand,” Portman said.

The Strickland campaign has tied Portman to the controversial head of his party.

Portman is “engulfed in a daily firestorm about his continued support for Trump and his record of championing job-killing trade deals,” said David Bergstein, communications director for Strickland’s campaign. “And he’s facing a statewide, coordinated campaign infrastructure with no help from his own top of the ticket.”

Portman is on a two-week tour of the state in an RV and on Saturday was in the county visiting volunteers at his campaign office in Washington Twp. Asked if he would make any appearances with Trump on his 50-stop tour, Portman said he didn’t know but he expects to be too busy as he criss-crosses the state in the RV.

Rich said IUOE Local 18 is one of four unions that endorsed Portman after previously endorsing Strickland in other campaigns. Portman has also been endorsed by the Ohio Conference of Teamsters, the United Mine Workers of America and the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police.

Portman said he believes the four unions endorsed him because of his record of accomplishment.

“We’ve got a plan to grow jobs and for the last six years we’ve done just that,” Portman said.

Mark Totman, vice president and legislative director for Local 18 said the heavy equipment operators the union represents have had more work under Republican leadership in Ohio than during Strickland’s term as governor in 2007-2010.

But Strickland’s spokesman said the former governor has the backing of far more labor unions than his opponent does.

“Ted has earned the endorsement of the overwhelming majority of labor unions, like the United Auto Workers, the AFL-CIO, SEIU and AFSCME,” Bergstein said.

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