House Speaker Paul Ryan joined Congressman Jeff Denham at a Modesto press conference Thursday in a bid to support his fellow Republican against a concentrated Democratic Party ad blitz to convince Northern San Joaquin Valley voters that he’s a Donald Trump clone.
Denham waived off a question about the negative television campaign being waged against him. The query was about a commercial that specifically shows him pictured with Trump. Denham said he is more concerned about the needs of the Central Valley and the importance of bringing in water for the agricultural needs of farmers and residents of the many communities that have been suffering from years of drought.
Denham’s poll numbers reportedly dropped after the commercial was first aired but have come back up substantially since then. He said he is more focused on his district’s concerns and needs than on the national contest.
The Democrats have tried to paint that photo taken while the congressman was spearheading a successful effort to reduce government waste by selling off unused or underutilized federal buildings. Trump — long before he was a candidate for president — was a buyer of one such property. The transaction was blessed by the Obama administration.
The hastily scheduled event brought Speaker Ryan into the Modesto Airport from Washington, D.C. in support of Denham at his McHenry Avenue campaign office under tight security. The event was attended by Republican dignitaries throughout the 209. As Speaker, Ryan is third in line to the presidency.
Denham said Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has been spending millions of dollars on TV advertising paid for by for donors outside the district in a bid to defeat his re-election.
Denham stressed that he had wanted House Speaker Ryan to come out to his California district to see the water problems first hand and to meet his many volunteers and growers.
It was hoped his visit would energize the volunteers even more and that Ryan would hear from the growers and continue to restore his favor in the polls with only a dozen days left before the election.
Denham mentioned that he has received four coveted awards for his service to Hispanic residents in his district during his tenure in office.
Ryan used an acronym to compare Denham to strong horses used on farms. “There are show horses and work horses and then there are people who really work to make a difference. We want work horses – we want doers. This man is a work horse,” he said of his friend and fellow congressman whose team of volunteers has walked all the precincts in his district three times over.
Ryan stressed that the political attacks on Denham held no water.
More than 40 high school juniors and seniors have been manning his campaign phones making a total of 42,000 calls to voters to remind them to vote. They were all part of the audience Thursday afternoon.
Ripon Christian High School senior and volunteer Cara Hoekstra said, “It was an honor to have him here today and to hear him speak.”
Two students from Ripon High School – also volunteers on the phones – senior, Everi Grant and junior Desiree Crez also listened intently during the presentations. They are both members of the Ripon High JROTC Battalion.
Ryan took the stage and first thanked the high school student volunteers for working and for caring about the election. He shared several of his passions with them:
“In public life, in politics and in government and in everything you see there are different kinds of people with different kinds of attributes. We have people who really care about certain ideas, who really care about principles, who really want to make a difference, who believe they are there to contribute, to represent, to make a difference and not care about getting credit for anything as long as they fix things, solve problems, come up with solutions – that’s the kind of person you want representing you. This man is a doer and he is already one of our quarterbacks on fixing some of your biggest problems,” Ryan stressed.
Denham said his district in the Central Valley offers many opportunities but the federal government’s help is needed to start solving some of the challenges that are holding business, industry and agriculture back, such as infrastructure, new water storage, and cutting some of the regulation that is allowing people to steal the water.
“These are big issues and one of the things I hear a lot from all of these student volunteers is the accessibility and the affordability of college. We want everybody to be able to exceed their dreams not only to get well educated but also be able to come back home and get jobs. The biggest fear with any of the parents I talk to is: ‘Will our kids actually come back home and live here in this community because we have water and we have jobs because we have a climate that allows us to live and work here?’”
At the conclusion of the hour-long session Paul Ryan and Denham were both surrounded by the students who had their pictures taken with them and enjoyed getting autographs from the House Speaker before he left for the airport.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email Gkahl@mantecabulletin.com.