EASTLAKE, Ohio -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine emphasized his conservative credentials and his support for President Donald Trump in a Monday night speech in Lake County.
DeWine emphasized the legal battles his office has taken since he was elected attorney general in 2010, including participating in a challenge to Obamacare and supporting the Hobby Lobby U.S. Supreme Court case that exempted some companies from being required to provide their employees with insurance coverage for birth control. He also praised Trump for appointing "constitutional conservative" judges and for rolling back Obama-era regulations since becoming president.
DeWine said people often ask him why he is running for governor, given his lengthy political experience as a former county prosecutor, state representative, congressman and U.S. senator.
"I think it's important to tell you why I run," DeWine said. "This is a great state but we have some challenges. And they're very very serious challenges. And how we meet those challenges will, frankly, determine what kind of state you turn over to your kids your grandkids and your great grandkids."
DeWine transitioned into discussing more kitchen-table issues, emphasizing his efforts to push local police departments to test the backlog of tens of thousands of long-untouched rape kits, and saying Ohio should encourage some students to pursue vocational education as an alternative to college to help boost the state's workforce. He said the state could help fight the opioid epidemic by funding anti-drug education and supporting local organizations' efforts to provide addiction treatment.
Lincoln Day Dinners are held by county parties around the state, and are a rite of passage for all statewide Republican candidates. Hundreds of Republicans ate hearty dinners of schnitzel, potato salad and green beans as DeWine spoke.
DeWine, a longtime Ohio politician who has been running for governor for nearly a year, seemed at ease at in the banquet hall where the event was held, saying he spotted a lot of "friends" in the crowd. He singled out industrialist Ed Crawford, a longtime, major Republican donor who received an award earlier in the evening. He also praised Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken, who introduced him.
DeWine briefly spoke about Richard Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general who is running for governor as a Democrat. He criticized Cordray as someone who is close to the administration of ex-President Barack Obama, and close to Elizabeth Warren, the liberal U.S. senator from Massachusetts. The reference to Warren prompted someone in the crowd to exclaim "Pocahontas," the insult repeatedly used by Trump that references her past claims of Native American heritage.