WELLINGTON, Ohio (WJW) — Former President Donald Trump’s packed rally Saturday was a chance for many Republican candidates to speak to voters and try to get an endorsement from the former president.
Many U.S. Senate candidates feel a nod from Trump could push them over the top in a crowded primary field.
Getting support from former President Trump is important for these candidates, considering he won the state of Ohio by eight points over President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Judging from the crowd in Wellington, the former president still holds major influence here in Ohio.
Businessman Mike Gibbons hopes to earn their support, and perhaps an endorsement from the former president in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
“Obviously, an endorsement from Donald Trump would be a very positive thing. I was Donald Trump’s finance co-chair in Ohio in 2016 and again in 2020, I raised a lot of money for him, spoke for him all over the state. I believe in the Trump agenda,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons is one of many GOP candidates trying to replace current Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman, who is not running for re-election next year.
Former state treasurer Josh Mandel, believes he’s the best candidate to replace him.
“First and foremost, this is a Trump crowd, this is Trump country and as I’ve been walking around, people have been coming up to me, saying, ‘hey Josh, we want to support your campaign for U.S. Senate. We see how you are full-throated for the Trump American First agenda’ and saying ‘hey, you’re a fighter like Trump…Josh, you’re a fighter,'” Mandel said.
Cleveland area businessman Bernie Moreno attended the rally, but for logistical reasons, spoke to us by phone.
“I’m focused on getting the endorsements from the 11 million people who live in Ohio and, obviously, I would love to have the president’s endorsement. And, he’s basically the leader of the Republican party. He’s an extraordinarily popular president among the Republican base and still continue to be,” Moreno told Fox 8.
Former Republican state party chair Jane Timken also attended the rally.
During much of the rally, a plane flew around the fairgrounds with her message for voters.
In a statement, she said, in part:
“Unlike other candidates who have bashed President Trump, refused to campaign for him or quit the tough fights, I have been unwavering in my support for President Trump and his America First agenda that worked for Ohio.”
“I’m here to support him. He’s a friend, glad to se him back in Ohio…I’m hoping I get a chance to talk to him, but I’m not concerned about his endorsement tonight. I’ll be looking and working for the next couple months to show that I should be the one endorsed by him,” Renacci said.
Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted did not attend the rally, citing prior engagements.
Retiring Senator Portman was also absent telling Fox 8 that he had already committed to attending the wedding of a staff member.