Moreno stumps for Senate votes in Ottawa

Mar. 18—OTTAWA — Bernie Moreno riled against the common perception that the three men running as Republicans for the U.S. Senate seat were "indistinguishable" during a campaign visit Monday.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," said Moreno, a Columbian immigrant who came to the U.S. as a child and built a company of car dealerships.

Moreno highlighted his differences from fellow GOP senate candidates Matt Dolan and Frank LaRose during a visit to Well Grounded Cafe on Monday morning, where more than 100 residents packed into the downtown coffeehouse to hear him speak. The three fought for the GOP's bid to opposed incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown in the November election, with in-person primary voting scheduled Tuesday.

"The one immigrant in the race is saying if you're in this country illegally, you must be deported," Moreno said. "You must because if we continue to reward people who break our laws, we're going to only encourage more people to break our laws."

He highlighted the difference between his plan, for the "largest deportation in American history," vs. his opponents' goals for amnesty for people already in the United States.

Moreno proudly boasted his agenda was "America First" and in line with former President Donald Trump's goals for the country in his own election campaign. Trump endorsed him in the three-way GOP primary, as did U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana.

He noted he's been in the private sector and never been on a ballot before now — "somebody who built businesses vs. guys who've always been running for office."

He said he favors term limits, wants to quickly and peacefully resolve the Ukrainian-Russian fight "and not risk World War 3 and not send hundreds of billions, potentially trillions of dollars to fight another endless war."

U.S. Sen. JD Vance, a Republican representing Ohio, arrived late to the Ottawa event after surveying damage from last week's tornado at Indian Lake. He said it was important for a candidate like Moreno, who he endorsed, to put American needs ahead of foreign ones.

"It sort of goes to highlight, I think, the fundamental differences in this race between a government that puts the interests of our citizens first and focuses on its own people when bad things happen, or a government that wants to send money across the Atlantic Ocean and all around the world," Vance said.

Kari Lake, a Trump-backed candidate running for the senate in Arizona, also came to Ottawa to support Moreno. The former journalist tore into Dolan, the Gov. Mike-DeWine-backed candidate whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians. She used the change of the team's name from Indians as an example of Dolan's willingness to "bow down to a woke mob."

"We need somebody with a steel spine in the halls of Congress. We need somebody who can join JD Vance, a totally conservative and credible America First senator. And that's Bernie Moreno."

Moreno jokingly asked residents to cast 11 votes for him, before clarifying he wanted them to vote once and bring 10 others to the polls to support him. He said afterward he focused on visiting along Interstate 75, with stops in Montgomery County, Ottawa and Toledo, saying they understood the difference between true Republicans and Republicans In Name Only, or RINOs for short. The future of the Republican Party is in the voters' hands, he said.

"Do you want outsiders and business people who are actually going to do the things that they campaign about?" Moreno said. "Or do you want to go back in the 1980s and '90s. This is Back to the Future, in reverse, right? This is where we're going to go back to the past Republican Party. That party is the one that sold out this country."

Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.