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Ohio GOP Chairman Acknowledges Trump Looms Large Over Elections To-Come, and Welcomes That

Jane Timken
M.L. Schultze
WKSU public radio

In her speech to the City Club in Cleveland today , Ohio GOP Chairman Jane Timken called Donald Trump a great president, quoted Richard Nixon, and named the entire slate of Republican statewide candidates in next year’s elections. But as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, the speech itself did not raise the name of Ohio’s Republican standard-bearer, Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich and President Trump have continued a battle that began during last year’s presidential primaries. It played out when Timken – with the backing of Trump – wrested control of the Ohio GOP from a Kasich loyalist earlier this year. -- and again last week when Vice President Pence criticized the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio that Kasich has championed.

After Timken's City Club appearance, a reporter asked her about the apparent rift with Pence.

“No comment, no. Because I don’t think there is (one).”

City Club events include a Q&A with the audience, and Kasich's name was raised  in a question about healthcare. 

Timken said he and Sen. Rob Portman are trying.

Timken responds to question on Kasich, Portman and healthcare

​"I think it's important to us to try to come solutions and I'm confident that Gov. Kasich and Sen. Portman are good leaders and they're doing what they think is best for this country. And I will support them as their chairman."

Kasich has said he will not be at the Ohio Republican Party annual dinner tomorrow at which Pence is the featured speaker. But he did say he’ll attend a preceding reception.

Here are some other topics Timken addressed:
On the 2017 and 2018 elections

She says her party is doing the data crunching and leg-work now to try to ensure the an estimated 1 million people who crossed over to vote for Donald Trump last year remain in the Republican fold, and that passion is on the Republican side.

Timken on an energized base

“The base is still very engaged and energized. And this past few months, we’ve had record attendance at our Lincoln Day Dinners.  A lot of those people who are attending are those previously un-engaged Trump supporters, so I’m really encouraged that those people are staying with us.”

Jane Timken
Credit M.L. Schultze / WKSU public radio
WKSU public radio
Timken was pressed by a self-identified Democrat on Trump's attitude toward women and "his documented lies."

Pressed on Trump's history with women and truth:

Timken's response to a question about Trump's personal traits

"I agree with you that the presidency deserves respect. I also think we have to understand that we're all human beings. I think that there are several presidents who have made comments that they probably wish they could take back. Look, I've had the pleasure of meeting the president on an individual basis. He is a wonderful human being who cares a lot about his family and I have great respect for him."

On the Russia investigation, she said she's lawyer who respects the law, but special investigations can get out of hand.

Timken on investigations

​"Special prosecutions and special investigations like that can get out of control. What concerns me is it will affect the ability of our grest president to do his job. And I am rooting for him to be able to do his job and not have these distractions of a special investigation.

On a Tweet this week by Senate candidate and state Treasurer Josh Mandel.
Ohio Treasurer and U.S. senatorial  candidate Josh Mandel tweeted this week that he “stands with” a conspiracy theorist who spread false rumors about a Democratic child-sex ring at a Washington pizza parlor. His tweet also supported another man who called diversity a code for white genocide. And Mandel, who is Jewish, criticized the Anti-Defamation League for condemning the two, saying the civil rights group was engaged in a “partisan witch hunt."

Timken on Mandel

“I’m not as familiar with the intricacies of what Josh tweeted. We do have diverse views and my job is to support our candidates. I will call candidates out if I think they’ve made mistakes, but my job is to support all our candidates.”

Timken called Mandel an excellent candidate.

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.