© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Trump's Campaign Chief in Ohio Says He's Targeting Democrats and Independents

Trump in Youngstown


  While the national campaign for Donald Trump is going through another shakeup, his Ohio campaign is settling in. It’s announced the opening of 16 campaign offices around the state and is promising many more. And it’s added senior staff to work with State Director Bob Paduchik. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze talked with Paduchik, who headed up George Bush’s 2000 Ohio campaign and moved over to the Trump campaign in June.

Bob Paduchik, a Summit County native, says the Trump campaign is absolutely aware that Ohio is a battleground state, where as few as 100,000 votes could make the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump this fall. He says that’s why the organization has been gearing up. And though he won't give details on the number of staff and ad buys,  he says the campaign has a sophisticated ground game as well as the enthusiasm of Trump voters and volunteers.

Early voting in Ohio begins Oct. 12, a week earlier if a federal judge's ruling stands

Enthusiasm and ...
“If you go to our rallies, which we put together on sometimes 48-hours notice or less, we were able to draw 8,000 people as we did recently in Toledo, Ohio. ... So we’re excited to have that level of enthusiasm and support of the grassroots and we look forward to putting that at work in Ohio.”

But Paduchik says the campaign is not resting on enthusiasm alone. He says it has a sophisticated ground game, including micro-targeting of voters detailing “which voters to focus on in terms of phone-call efforts or door-knocking efforts.”

Big data to get out the vote
He says such efforts began in 2004, when he was working on the George W. Bush campaign and, “each election cycle since, the technology and the science behind it has gotten more sophisticated.

“So we’re going to use those data-gathering tools to identify the disaffected Democrats and independents we know are following Mr. Trump’s message and make sure those folks are registered and turn out to vote on Election Day.”

He insists the Trump campaign is working well with the Ohio Republican Party, despite Gov. John Kasich’s refusal to endorse Trump and the tepid endorsements of others.

“Just as importantly (are) the county party leaders and county elected leaders who have grassroots organizations ... and can turn voters out and get people energized.”

The fight for the working class
Trump plans to be in Akron Monday, following visits to Youngstown, Columbus and Toledo since he won the GOP nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.

Paduchik says the choice of locations is no accident.

Bob Paduchik
Bob Paduchik came over from the coal industry to work with the Trump campaign.

“I think it’s indicative of the advantage that Mr. Trump has in reaching out to traditionally Democratic voters and traditional independents that vote Democratic. ... That’s where our focus is because Mr. Trump’s message of America First is drawing disaffected Democrats and independents to his campaign.”

The Trump campaign has been adding senior staff. And for the first time, it had a rapid-response team set up outside Hillary Clinton’s rally in Cleveland this week. Paduchik says that a sign that the campaign and voter interest are coming together at the same time.

“Voters are paying more attention to the election and less attention to other things; our strategy is lining up at that same time. We have the staff on the ground that not only allows us to turn out the votes, but also to respond in kind to the messages that are out there as well.

I think that with 80-some days left here in this campaign, that it demonstrates that we have the infrastructure and the team in place to get the job done for Mr. Trump.”

Early voting in Ohio actually begins in about seven weeks.

Between now and Oct. 12, Paduchik says the job will be “making sure we’re carrying Mr. Trump’s message out.”

And the best way to do that, he says, is to keep bringing Trump back to Ohio.

Besides Trump’s visit to the University of Akron Monday night, he and Hillary Clinton have both committed to appearances in Cincinnati at the end of the month to address the American Legion’s national convention. 

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.