CINCINNATI -- Donald Trump has now visited Scotland more than Ohio since becoming the Republican Party's presumptive nominee.
And, with Hillary Clinton set to make her third visit to Ohio today in less than two weeks, some Ohio Republicans are privately asking why Trump hasn't rallied in the state since March.
Trump’s campaign has been slow to launch in Ohio, one of the most coveted swing states in the general election.
Just last week, Trump hired his first staffer in the state. But the hire still lags far behind both Clinton’s campaign organization in the state and the traditional timeline of campaign operations in previous years.
“One candidate is running your typical campaign and the other one is doing nothing,” said Lee Hannah, a political science professor at Wright State University. “Clinton is running a typical presidential campaign. It looks profound because of what Trump is not doing.”
Ohio Rep. Niraj Antani was the first Ohio intern the Mitt Romney campaign hired back in 2012, when Romney was the Republican Party’s nominee.
Antani’s start date for his gig with the campaign? May 19, 2012.
He can rattle off a list of dates from that summer:
June 9: Romney opens his campaign headquarters in Ohio
June 14: Romney makes a stop in Cincinnati
June 17: Romney launched a three-day bus tour in the state.
So when Antani fast forwards to this election, he’s worried that Trump just hired his first Ohio staffer last week.
“Don’t tell me we need to be unified when you’re not running a campaign,” Antani, a Republican who is up for re-election this fall, said of Trump. “I’m a political person; I appreciate people who put forth good campaigns and I don’t see it right now.”
Antani fears Trump’s absence might handicap some Ohio Republicans. When Clinton has visited in recent weeks, for example, she’s had Ted Strickland or Sen. Sherrod Brown by her side. That gives those lower office seekers access to large crowds and media spotlight.
But Ohio Republicans will have trouble grabbing that same kind of attention without a visit from Trump.
The Ohio GOP is pressing forward – without Trump – on campaign efforts for the general election. The party hired 50 full-time field staffers working in the state to campaign on behalf of Republicans running for office, a spokeswoman for the party said. Those staffers are campaigning for dozens of Republicans on the ticket, from Trump to Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
Still, Trump hasn’t visited the state since March 14 – a day before he lost in the Ohio primary – and he has yet to open a campaign headquarters there.
That’s surprising to Gary Cates, a former Ohio Senator and Butler County resident who volunteered in states around the country for Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign.
“I’m dismayed we haven’t seen any more organization put forth by (Trump) at this point,” Cates said. “The Clinton people, they have a well-oiled machine on a local level. It’s just a question of whether Trump catches up to her.”
Clinton, for example, has hired a state director and press secretary, among other paid positions. Last week, the Hillary Clinton campaign announced a six-week TV ad buy in eight states, including Ohio. And, a Cincinnati campaign office will open early next month, according to a spokeswoman for the campaign. The Democratic Party also has 100 full-time staffers working the ground game in Ohio.
The moves signal she is taking Ohio seriously but it could also mean she’s nervous about how well she’ll do here.
Trump is counting on Midwestern, white voters – including ones here in Ohio – to put him in the White House, Jared Kamrass a political strategist for Rivertown Strategies.
“They’re not going to take Ohio for granted,” Kamrass said of the Clinton campaign. “These things are a turnout game – it’s all about who can turn out their voters the best … Ohio has not gotten substantially more diverse since 2012.”
And, Clinton is likely trying to put the Ohio media spotlight on her ahead of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Ohio reporters, television crews and photographers will put the spotlight on the GOP party – and its nominee – for a week straight.
“Know that Trump is going to get a lot of free media attention, because the convention is in Ohio, she might be trying to cut that off,” Hannah said.
Steve Rentschler, a Trump supporter who lives in Sycamore Township, said he’ll start fretting about Trump’s campaign strategy if he doesn’t pick up campaigning here after the convention.
Rentschler said he works with Trump’s businesses and has seen, firsthand, that he hires good people who will run a strong campaign in Ohio.
“He’s starting to get on a roll now,” Rentschler, who plans to volunteer for the campaign later this summer, said. “He’s starting to get his staff together … I think he’ll surprise people. He’s been a winner – he is a winner.”