A handful of Make America Great Again hats could be seen among the throngs of formal wear as guests settled in for a more exciting than usual Ohio Republican Party State Dinner.
President Donald Trump himself paid a visit to the Columbus Convention Center on Friday to speak in front of hundreds of the state’s most prominent members.
The event began with an invocation by Josh Burton, president of Ohio Young Republicans, who asked for a blessing on Trump and the American people.
Trump was next to address the crowd, addressing Ohio republicans.
“I just don’t see Ohio as liberal,” he said. “Are you liberal? I don’t get it.”
In the midst of touting republican values, degrading undocumented immigrants and criticizing the Democratic Party, Trump made several statements on Ohio politics including his assessment of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Richard Cordray.
“Cordray will destroy your state.”
Trump also made a point of endorsing Rep. Jim Jordan, from Bucyrus, Ohio, for speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Jordan is a favorite to be the next speaker, but is being scrutinized for allegedly ignoring allegations of sexual abuse by team doctor Richard Strauss while he was an assistant coach for the Ohio State wrestling team.
The crowd was enthusiastic as Trump spoke, standing to clap and cheer during his remarks. They booed any mention of household names from the Democratic Party and their platforms.
“The truth is, a vote for any democrat in November is a vote for Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the legendary Maxine Waters, the de facto head of the democrat party(sic),” Trump said.
Trump’s enthusiasm Friday night came after a rough week for his administration.
On Tuesday, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, were found guilty to eight counts each of financial crimes including tax fraud and financial fraud, casting a shadow of illegitimacy on the presidency.
Trump chose not to address his connection to the men while in Columbus.
A usual calling-card of Trump’s political life, distrust of the media, was in full swing on Friday as the press was confined to the press pen before and during the reception, requiring escorts for even trips to the restroom, though interviews were eventually allowed.
Ohio Governor John Kasich did not attend the event and has not endorsed gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine, who was in attendance. Trump has; leaving many to further speculate a disconnect between Kasich and DeWine as a result.
In place of Kasich, Ohio GOP chairman Jane Timken thanked Trump and all present for their attendance.
“2018 is the battle for Ohio’s future. When you head to the polls on November 6, everything is on the line,” Timken said. “Ohio is booming because of republican policies and President Trump.”