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2018 was a big election year in Ohio. Republicans held onto all five statewide executive offices including governor and super majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate. But there were a few bright spots for Democrats, among them the reelection of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the election of two Democrats to the Ohio Supreme Court.With election 2018 over, the focus now shifts to governing. Stay connected with the latest on politics, policies and people making the decisions at all levels affecting your lives.

Trump In Blue Ash: Touts Tax Cuts, Calls Congressional Democrats "Treasonous"

Sheffer Corp. in Blue Ash
Sheffer Corp. in Blue Ash

President Donald Trump came to Blue Ash Monday to tout the Republican tax reform bill he signed into law; and boast that it is already paying dividends for American workers and companies.

But, as is typical with a Trump speech, he ranged through a myriad of issues – from fighting drug abuse, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and the fact that no players took a knee during the National Anthem at Sunday night's Super Bowl.

He even called Democrats in Congress "treasonous" for sitting stone-faced and not applauding through most of his State of the Union address last month.

"They were like death; and un-American,'' Trump told an audience of workers at the Sheffer Corp., a Blue Ash company that makes industrial cylinders. "Somebody said treasonous. I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much."

But the reason he was there at Sheffer was because it is one of hundreds of companies around the country that have given their employees substantial bonuses since the tax reform bill became law.

The bonuses were $1,000 each for the employees of Sheffer.

"Your taxes are going way down for the first time in a long time,'' Trump said in a 45-minute speech. "You've seen it. The factories are coming back. Everything's coming back. Everybody wants to be where the action is. America is once again open for business."

While the president was at Sheffer Corp., talking tax reform, First Lady Melania Trump was at Children's Hospital Medical Center, to greet children and talk with physicians and administrators about their efforts to combat the effects of opioids on children.

He praised the work of Children's Hospital; and then said that he believes in getting tough on drug dealers.

"Really, really tough; really, really mean,'' Trump said. "We can do all the blue ribbon commissions we want. We have to get a lot tougher than we are."

But the focus was on the tax cuts.

It was clear that Rob Portman, the junior senator from Ohio, recommended to the Trump White House that it visit Sheffer. Portman was there in early January for a plant tour; and he talked extensively afterwards about the bonuses employees received.

For Portman, who was re-elected to another six-year term in 2016, it was the first time he appeared in public with Trump at an Ohio event.

Portman and Trump toured the plant with Jeff Norris of Sheffer Corp. and executives from several other Cincinnati area businesses that have given their employees $1,000 bonuses since the bill was signed into law.

Greg Carmichael, CEO of Fifth Third Bank, and Matt Schron from Jergens Inc. were among the business executives who accompanied Trump and Portman on the tour.

They were among the business leaders Trump called to the stage during his speech.  

Besides Portman, the Trump visit drew other Ohio Republican politicians who wanted to be seen with the president who won Ohio in 2016 over Hillary Clinton by eight percentage points.

Another Ohio politician who was front and center was Jim Renacci, the congressman who was running for governor until State Treasurer Josh Mandel dropped out of the Republican U.S. Senate primary. Now, Renacci faces Cleveland businessman Michael Gibbons in the May primary for the right to challenge Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown in the fall.

Trump made it clear Monday that he is a Renacci fan, mentioning him on several occasions during the speech.

At the end of the speech, he pointed at Renacci and said, "Jim, get in there and fight. We need you; we need you."

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the leading GOP candidate for Ohio governor, wasn't there, but he sent his running mate, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

DeWine's only remaining opponent for the GOP gubernatorial nomination is Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who has positioned herself as the political "outsider" who can appeal to Ohio's Trump voters. She was there, along with her running mate, Cincinnati area businessman Nathan Estruth.

The Ohio Democratic Party put out a press release Monday afternoon saying Republicans like Taylor and Husted "can't wait to kiss the ring" of President Trump at the Blue Ash event.

"In appearing with Trump today, Mary Taylor and Jon Husted are embracing a tax plan that is adding to the federal deficit, causing the federal government to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year – almost double what was borrowed last year,'' said Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper.

Notably absent was the congressman in whose district the event was held.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a Republican from Mt. Lookout, issued a statement Monday morning saying that he was glad the president "is coming to see firsthand the great things happening in Ohio's Second District as a result of tax reform."

But Wenstrup said his due to his House committee responsibilities and his Army Reserve commitment to serve at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he could not be in Blue Ash Monday.

Shortly before the visit Monday, the White House put out a statement saying that "families in Ohio will see a tax cut of more than $8 billion – in just this year alone."

About 30 people protesting what they called the "Trump Tax Scam" stood outside in the cold during Trump's appearance. There were also a few Trump supporters outside. The event was not open to the public. 

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