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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Presidential Candidate Tim Ryan Rallies Hometown Crowd with Focus on Jobs and Unity

photo of Tim Ryan, Ray Mancini
Congressman Tim Ryan talks to boxing legend and Youngstown native Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini at Ryan's first presidential campaign rally held in downtown Youngstown. Ryan joked he would hire Mancini as his White House secretary.

Tim Ryan appeared at his first Presidential campaign rally in downtown Youngstown Saturday, telling the crowd that he wants Americans to “come together.”

Ryan spoke for about 20 minutes before an enthusiastic crowd on the city street, right in front of the Youngstown Business Incubator that he’s championed in recent years. Aside from a couple of pro-President Trump signs, it was a sea of red, white and blue shirts and placards with Ryan’s “Our Future Is Now” slogan.

The nine-term congressman said he’s running because the country has become too polarized in recent years, and that’s impacted the economy as well. Ryan said he hopes to emulate President John F. Kennedy, the namesake of the Warren high school from which Ryan graduated, who had a clear vision for America.

“It’s about bringing the country together. You don’t get to the moon, divided. The challenges we have today – there’s not one Sputnik moment – we need about seven Sputnik moments.”

In his speech, Ryan discussed both the nation’s challenges and the ones specific to the Mahoning Valley, such as Black Monday – when a large portion of Youngstown Sheet and Tubing closed -- and the idling of the GM Lordstown plant.

“Things go up and things go down.  But if we’re not united, we are not going to be able to fix these structural problems that we have in the United States.”

In 2017, Trump held a rally in Youngstown and told the audience that jobs would be coming back to the region.  Ryan has been critical of the president in the wake of GM’s announcement last year that it would end production of the Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze.

Ryan is spending part of this week in Iowa and is also slated to hold a town hall in New Hampshire on Thursday.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.