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Tim Ryan will entertain your conspiracy theory, analysis says

The Democratic candidate for the Ohio Senate has a habit of being agreeable in campaign interviews

Tim Ryan, Democratic candidate for the Ohio Senate / Wikimedia Commons

Joseph Simonson • October 24, 2022 04:59

During a 2019 appearance on The breakfast cluba liberal talk show hosted by rapper Charlamagne tha God, Democrat Tim Ryan (Ohio) was asked if he believed in a conspiracy theory regarding collusion between big food companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

“Do you think the food industry and the health industry work hand in hand?” the rapper asked Ryan, explaining his belief that “certain foods make people sick, and then the health industry gives the medicine to treat it.” Another host specifically brought up the “Got Milk?” campaign, although it is not clear where she was coming from.

But Ryan kept the notions alive. “Yeah, it’s hard to tell what’s going on behind the scenes,” Ryan said. “What I do know is that they make a lot of money.”

The answer is part of a pattern for Ryan, who tends to agree with anything presented to him. The Free Washington Beacon reported last week that Ryan, when he first ran for Congress in 2002, promised an interviewer he would investigate whether the feds created HIV to kill black people, a baseless conspiracy theory which has been used to fuel anti-Semitism and anti-American sentiment around the world.

His tendency to say “yes” to whoever he talks to, however, doesn’t just apply to bizarre conspiracy theories. The desire to agree has led Ryan to take far-left stances in interviews on issues ranging from criminal justice to immigration. That’s a problem for Ryan, who is now trying to portray himself as a moderate. A Free tag Examination of Ryan’s 20-year congressional career revealed a lawmaker on either side of the issues, resulting in an ideologically inconsistent record.

Ryan was pressed, for example, during a 2019 interview with the far-left talk show hosts at Young Turks to be to the right of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). He replied that he was as liberal as possible.

“I’ve been on the Medicare for All bill since 2007…before it was cool,” Ryan said. “People say, ‘He’s a businessman.’ I voted against all the tax cuts….I’m on the Medicare for All bill, that’s right, I’m on the debt-free and college-free bill.

Ryan this year gave up almost all of those positions. When it comes to health care, Ryan remains vague about what kind of system he supports. Ryan’s Senate campaign website says he supports lowering the age of eligibility for Medicare and creating a public option. During a campaign stop in March, Ryan said he was no longer interested in “taking anyone’s health care that they have and love.”

On student debt, Ryan now says President Joe Biden’s executive order to write off hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt “sends the wrong message.” His campaign told the Free tag earlier this year that he remained consistent on the issue of student loan forgiveness.

On crime, Ryan tells voters in Ohio he supports increasing police department budgets with federal grants. But amid his failed presidential bid just a few years ago, Ryan called for the release of a million felons and the elimination of cash bail – two policy proposals missing from his campaign website.

During a 2019 interview with PBS, also while Ryan was running for president, Ryan said he was “in tune with all progressives” on immigration. Footage from a mayoral candidate in New Hampshire the same year shows Ryan pledging to a self-proclaimed ‘ACLU voter’ that as president he would lobby local law enforcement groups to end the practice of detaining illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

Ryan’s shifting stances became a recurring theme in attacks from his Republican opponent, JD Vance, who portrayed Ryan as an ineffective lawmaker for Ohio.

“My simple argument is this: that Tim Ryan had his chance,” Vance said during a debate earlier this month. “He’s been in office for 20 years. He passed five laws; three of those laws renamed post offices.”

A recent poll shows Vance extending his lead over Ryan. A RealClearPolicies the poll average shows Ohio voters favor Vance by 2.3 points. The two will face off in November for the Senate seat held by retired Rob Portman.