Ahead of debate, Democratic Party leader stresses Ohio’s role in election

The chair of the Democratic National Committee used three area stops Monday to tout the “unity in values” of the party, point to Ohio’s importance in the presidential election and promote today’s debate in the Buckeye state.

Twelve Democratic presidential candidates will take the stage at Otterbein University in Westerville tonight.

Chair Tom Perez visited Dayton to hold a roundtable discussion on gun violence and gun safety. Survivors and gun safety advocates were invited to the discussion.

Early Monday morning, Perez stopped in West Chester Twp. at the General Motors Parts Distribution Center to support striking United Auto Workers.

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Perez later went to Raymond, Ohio, to talk with farmers. Perez toured the Mac Acres Dairy Farm and held another roundtable discussion.

Perez said Ohio is an important stop on the campaign trail.

“We’re here barnstorming the state of Ohio ahead of tomorrow’s debate because Ohio is in fact a battleground state,” Perez said. “We’re competing everywhere, and we’re going to win everywhere.”

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Mandi Merritt said the swing state is firmly in President Donald Trump’s corner.

“From supporting a bogus impeachment witch hunt, to advocating for failed socialist policies, the Democrats’ radical agenda is taking center stage in Ohio. But no matter the candidate, not one 2020 wannabe will stack up to President Trump’s record of success in the Buckeye State,” Merritt said.

Perez said the amount of differing opinions on the debate stage will showcase the depth of the Democratic party.

“I think it is going to expose the remarkable depth of our party. (Having so many candidates on stage) will expose and highlight the unity of values we have,” Perez said. “Every candidate that we have on that stage tomorrow will be advocating for common-sense gun measures, every candidate believes health care should be available.”

The debate will start at 8 p.m. today. It will be the fourth round of Democratic debates.

On Monday, Perez met with a group of about 10 people at 10 a.m. at Corinthian Baptist Church. Perez met with survivors of gun violence from all over the state, members of Moms Demand Action and some local gun safety advocates during the private event. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and U.S. House of Representatives candidate Desiree Tims also sat in on the meeting.

Perez called gun violence in the United States a “public health epidemic,” and said it was a frustrating issue because it is preventable.

The candidates will likely discuss gun control during the debate, he said.

“The Second Amendment and common-sense gun violence reduction measures can co-exist and they must co-exist,” Perez said. “We’re continuing to fight and you’re going to hear discussion, I’m sure, tomorrow at Otterbein about this issue.”

The candidates who will participate in the debate are former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.

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In a Quinnipiac Poll released Monday, Warren and Biden remain the front-runners. Warren is slightly up from Biden, according to the new poll.

The results showed 30% of Democratic or Democratic leaning voters said they would vote for Warren, 27% for Biden.

“For Sen.Warren, the third straight time essentially tied at the top is the charm,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy. “Her candidacy clearly has staying power going into the debate.”

Sanders received 11% of the vote, and Buttigieg was at 8%, according to the poll.

Harris is at 4%. No other candidate topped 2% in the poll.

On the question of which candidate stands the best chance of winning against President Donald Trump, the Quinnipiac poll found that Biden still ranks at the top, with 48% of those responding saying he has the best chance. In August, 49% of those polled said he had the best chance of winning against Trump.

In that August poll, Warren’s electability rating was 9%. In the newest poll, 21% said she had the best chance at winning an election against Trump.

Gabbard announced she would participate in the event on Monday after previously saying she was considering boycotting it. She said the requirements to get into this debate were an attempt to “rig” the 2020 primary.

Perez said he “respectfully disagreed” with Gabbard’s characterization of the process. To qualify for this debate, candidates needed donations from at least 130,000 different donors and needed to reach 2% in four DNC-approved polls.

“This has been a transparent process and she followed the rules and made the debate stage,” Perez said.

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Ultimately, Perez said those watching the debate will see unity in the Democratic Party.

“Do we have differences of opinion? Absolutely,” Perez said. “And we’ll talk about the different ways to get to universal health care, but make no mistake about it, we want to get to the mountain top and the other side is very content to taking us to the bottom of the mountain.”


On radio: Tune in today starting at 7 p.m. on 1290 and 95.7 WHIO for complete coverage of the Democratic presidential candidates' debate. The debate will air from 8-11 p.m. followed by post-debate coverage from 11 p.m.-1 a.m.

Our team: WHIO TV's Jim Otte and the Dayton Daily News' Laura Bischoff and Amelia Robinson will be at tonight's debate. Follow our coverage on our Ohio Politics Facebook page and on Twitter at @Ohio_Politics

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