Tim Ryan says Democrats need to unite to "move the ball down the field"

Tim Ryan: "Listening to each other" key to unifying the country

Citing his time as a quarterback in high school and college, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, the latest Democrat to join the crowded and diverse primary field for the presidential nomination, said his party needs to "move the ball down the field" and unite around issues like single-payer healthcare — a progressive proposal some of his fellow candidates have already endorsed. 

"Here is the key: progress. We're going backwards," Ryan said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "I'm an old quarterback. Look, you got to get first downs, you got to move the ball down the field if you're going to score, and we're going backwards right now. So, we've got to find issues we can unify around and pass them."  

Ryan, who was recruited to play football for Youngstown State University but was sidelined by a knee injury, said a broad coalition of Democrats and independents should come together to revamp the healthcare industry in the U.S. Ryan announced his candidacy on "The View" last week. 

"President Trump and the Republicans right now want to kick people off of healthcare. That's going in the wrong direction," he added. "So progressives, independents, we need to unify around policies that move the ball down the field and start helping more working class people."

The nine-term lawmaker, known for his unsuccessful leadership challenges against now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Democrats also need to discuss proposals to revitalize the economies of Midwestern communities, like his rural district in northeastern Ohio. 

"The old coal community, steel communities, rubber and auto communities that have lost jobs the last 30 years, there's been no plan to help those communities at all. That's going to be a priority for me and we're going to get it done," he said. 

By enacting incentives, including changes in the tax code, to bring electric car manufacturing to the region, Ryan said the government could create many jobs and compete with China's growing economy, which he noted currently has a hegemony over electric car production. 

Pressed for more details, the Ohio congressman said Democrats need to make sure any plan to help the economy in the Rust Belt is based on a balanced "public-private partnership" that does not rely disproportionately on government bureaucracy or the free market. 

"It's not going to be all government, no centralized planning and it's not going to be be all free market — cut taxes for the top one percent and hope some crumbs get sprinkled to the Youngstown, Ohios, of the world," he said.