Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

Representative, Ohio

Tim Ryan has withdrawn his candidacy.

Tim Ryan is an eight-term congressman from Ohio. First elected in 2002, he unsuccessfully challenged Nancy Pelosi for the House Democratic leadership in 2016. His campaign message centers on responding to the country’s precipitous manufacturing decline, which he says calls for investment in new technologies and a stronger response to China’s trade practices. 

He earned his law degree from the University of New Hampshire in 2000, before which he worked as a congressional aide. He was born in Niles, Ohio.


Ryan sees China as the largest threat to the United States, citing Beijing’s unfair trade practices, its military ambitions, and its human rights abuses. He believes that the way to respond is to “outcompete them” and argues that President Donald J. Trump’s unfocused approach has failed.

  • Ryan calls China the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States because “they’re wiping us around the world economically.” He says Beijing is expanding its influence in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific.
  • He accuses China of “abusing the economic system for a long time,” stealing intellectual property, subsidizing industries, and undermining U.S. manufacturing, which he says adds up to a transfer of American middle-class wealth to China. 
  • He believes that using tariffs to pressure China and reduce the trade deficit is an “absolute necessity,” but that Trump’s tariffs are not targeted enough and have cost U.S. farmers, manufacturers, and consumers billions of dollars. 
  • He says competing with China economically will mean bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and becoming a world leader in producing electric vehicles, solar panels, and other technologies. He warns that the United States is falling behind China in those areas.
  • He would establish the position of chief manufacturing officer in the White House, which would be responsible for coordinating manufacturing-related policies. 
  • He supports the Trump administration’s crackdown on Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant. In Congress, he cosponsored a bill that would increase oversight of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges.
  • He told CFR that he would increase human rights pressure on China, especially in regard to its “terrible treatment of ethnic Uighurs” and “methodical campaign of vilification of Hong Kong protesters.” 

Climate and Energy

Describing climate change as “one of the greatest threats facing our planet,” Ryan believes the United States needs policies to become a world leader in manufacturing green technology.

  • He says that the United States should make “strategic investments” to become fully carbon free and the number one producer of green technology and energy-efficient products that it can export to the world. 
  • He told CFR that producing these technologies is a “transformational opportunity” that would create millions of new jobs and allow the United States to export its green products.
  • He pledges to rejoin the Paris Agreement, from which Trump withdrew.
  • He does not back the Green New Deal framework supported by many Democrats, saying that although he agrees with many of its environmental policies, he isn’t in favor of its broader economic policies, such as job guarantees and a universal basic income. 


Ryan views domestic terrorism as a serious threat, backing gun control and other measures to combat it, and argues for a continued U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan to counter terrorist groups there. 

  • He has consistently described mass shootings in the United States as acts of terrorism, and he supports “common-sense gun legislation” as a way to combat domestic terrorism. 
  • He has supported passing legislation that prevents suspected terrorists on the FBI terrorism watch list from purchasing firearms
  • He has expressed concern that a full withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops from Afghanistan would lead to the country becoming a terrorist safe haven. 
  • He has called some of the country’s post-9/11 counterterrorism policies, including warrantless domestic wiretapping, “unlawful.”

Cybersecurity and Digital Policy

Ryan has backed efforts to improve U.S. election security in the wake of foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election.

  • Ryan cosponsored 2019 legislation that would seek to protect elections by requiring paper ballots, creating nationwide intelligence-sharing systems, and developing a national strategy for election cybersecurity, among other provisions.
  • He says that the government needs to look into breaking up tech giants, such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google. He says such companies are not “meeting the standards that we need them to meet” around privacy and election security.
  • He has criticized Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg for his company’s role in facilitating Russian propaganda and disinformation. 


Ryan argues that the U.S. defense budget needs to be reevaluated and supports directing more of that spending toward domestic priorities and military modernization.

  • Ryan supports cutting the U.S. defense budget, saying the Defense Department needs to curb “overspending and waste” and arguing that focusing more narrowly on emerging threats will “actually build a better military.”
  • He says stronger U.S. alliances will help Washington save money on defense by avoiding duplication. 
  • He says reduced military spending should be directed instead toward economic stimulus, reducing the national debt, and giving money to states to spend on public investments.
  • He also argues that the Department of Defense should prioritize contracts with companies in regions of the United States that have lost manufacturing jobs.
  • In Congress, he has backed recent Pentagon budget increases, which he says help the United States “keep our position as a leader on the world stage,” modernize its forces, and compete with China and Russia.
  • He told CFR that “the bulk” of U.S. forces in Afghanistan would come home by the end of his term, but that enough must remain to retain the ability to strike at terrorist groups.
  • Asked about the president’s legal ability to launch military actions without the prior approval of Congress, Ryan said it is a “case-by-case” judgment. 
  • His proposals for veterans include reforms to the Veterans Affairs system, expanding treatment for mental health and substance abuse, and legislation to give more support to military families.

Diplomacy and Foreign Aid

Ryan believes that “diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy,” criticizing what he calls Trump’s “disrespectful” approach to U.S. allies, but he says that diplomacy must be bolstered by military strength. 

  • Ryan says he would “rebuild our alliances” with European countries and make sure “our friends know the United States is back and ready to lead the world again.”
  • He told CFR that the United States’ greatest foreign policy accomplishment in recent history was establishing “a world order that has led to the proliferation of democracy, democratic ideals, and the raised standard of living for every human being.”
  • He criticized Trump for undermining U.S. diplomacy, pointing to reduced staff and budget cuts at the State Department. “We must have our State Department engaged,” he says.
  • He would increase foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to address the conditions that are leading record numbers of asylum seekers to flee to the United States. 
  • He believes that the United States has the “moral obligation to ensure genocide cannot be carried out in any corner of the Earth,” but that military action should primarily be done collectively through international bodies such as the United Nations.

Economic Policy

Ryan’s campaign has focused on policies to revitalize U.S. manufacturing, create new high-tech jobs, boost wages, and support workers after decades of what he calls neglect by Washington and unfair competition from China.

  • Ryan says that the “economy is broken,” arguing that competing with “abusive” Chinese trade practices has sent jobs overseas, reduced wages for workers, and transferred middle-class wealth abroad. 
  • He argues for reducing “wasteful” spending on defense and other areas in order to invest domestically in reducing the U.S. debt, improving schools and infrastructure, and creating job-training programs. “Making the U.S. stronger at home makes us stronger abroad,” he says.
  • He calls the 2017 tax reform, which cut both corporate and individual rates, a “scam” that benefits the wealthy. He backs higher capital gains taxes, higher rates on wealthy individuals, and a reorientation of tax collection away from labor and toward capital.
  • He believes in using tariffs to pressure China to change its economic policies and reduce the trade deficit but says that Trump’s tariffs are not targeted enough.
  • He says competing with China economically will mean bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and becoming a world leader in producing electric vehicles, solar panels, and other technologies. He proposes a “new industrial policy” to do so, including creating a White House chief manufacturing officer.
  • His plan would also expand apprenticeship programs, make trillions of dollars in infrastructure investments, increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and seek to double U.S. union membership. 
  • He calls for more investment in training workers for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs. In Congress, he introduced legislation to expand STEM training, create apprenticeships, and offer transition funds for workers in industries hit by outsourcing and automation.


Ryan says that immigration makes the United States stronger and he criticizes Trump’s efforts to crack down on undocumented residents and bar asylum seekers. He also supports immigration reform that includes improved border security.

  • Ryan backs comprehensive immigration reform that combines stronger border security with “compassionate” policies toward immigrants and asylum seekers.
  • A cosponsor of the DREAM Act, Ryan supports creating a path to citizenship for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and for the rest of the country’s estimated eleven million undocumented residents. 
  • He says Trump’s “laziness” is to blame for the crisis at the U.S. southern border, where record numbers of mostly Central American asylum seekers have been arriving. Ryan argues that Trump has “ignored” the problem and done nothing to address the source of the issue.
  • He opposes Trump’s efforts to ramp up deportation of undocumented residents. In 2018, he left his seat at the State of the Union open to draw attention to those wrongfully targeted for deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • In contrast with some Democrats, he does not advocate for abolishing ICE. Instead, he believes the agency should focus on deporting “criminals and national security threats.” He would end the family separations implemented under Trump. 
  • He opposes Trump’s plans to expand the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing that border security should be improved with increased funding for surveillance technologies and more border personnel.
  • He backs increasing refugee admissions to at least 110,000 per year after Trump cut that number to under 30,000.

Middle East

Ryan calls for renewed diplomacy in the region, including with Iran and Israel, while pushing for increased pressure on authoritarian regimes in Syria and Saudi Arabia. 

  • He told CFR that he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he criticizes Trump for taking a one-sided stance in favor of Israel. He says one of his “first priorities” would be to regain the trust of the Palestinians and restart negotiations.
  • He says it would be “impossible” to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement, from which Trump withdrew, as it was originally written. Instead, he would pursue a new version of the deal that commits Iran to tighter restrictions on its nuclear program.
  • He calls Saudi Arabia an ally, but told CFR that the Saudi-led war in Yemen is a “humanitarian catastrophe” and that the United States should cut off all support for Riyadh so as not to be complicit in Saudi Arabia’s “crimes.”
  • He supported Trump’s air strikes against the forces of Bashar al-Assad in Syria in retaliation for the regime’s use of chemical weapons.
  • He says that Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria may have “emboldened” Assad and that Trump lacks a clear plan for removing the Syrian president from power. Ryan would be open to restoring diplomatic relations with Assad under certain conditions, including the destruction of biological weapons and reforms to allow political opposition. 
  • He told CFR that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the United States’ greatest foreign policy mistake since the end of World War II, arguing that it “undercut our moral standing in the world.”

North Korea

Ryan advocates for a tougher approach on North Korea’s nuclear program, saying that any negotiations would require verifiable actions by Pyongyang. He says Trump’s direct diplomacy with Kim Jong-un has legitimated a dictator without achieving anything. 

  • Ryan told CFR that Trump has given Kim “unprecedented international legitimacy” by meeting with him without any preconditions.
  • He calls Trump’s meetings with Kim “appeasement,” arguing that the president is rewarding Kim’s bad behavior in the wake of continued North Korean missile testing.
  • He says he would not sign an incremental deal, such as one offering partial sanctions relief in exchange for some dismantling of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, but would only accept full denuclearization.
  • He is open to meeting with Kim only after “calculated, methodical” preparation. 


Ryan argues that Russia is a threat to U.S. interests around the world and is seeking to undermine international order. He says that Trump has failed to understand or confront the threat.

  • Ryan has been deeply critical of Trump’s warm relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that Putin is “trying to destroy the United States of America,” undermine its democracy, and hack its electoral systems. 
  • He warns about Russia’s intentions in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere, arguing that Moscow is seeking to undermine U.S. interests and a “lawful global society.”
  • He told CFR that Russian intervention in Ukraine has “shown that they must be contained.” He says he would use “every diplomatic tool available” to prevent Russian aggression in other Eastern European countries.
  • He argues that Ukraine’s best defense against Russia would be to build a strong democracy and implement anticorruption reforms.
  • He also pledges to work with European allies to “ensure a credible threat of harsh sanctions” against any new Russian aggression.


Ryan is a critic of global trade agreements that he says have hurt American workers, outsourced jobs, and allowed China to take advantage of the United States. He backs some of Trump’s confrontational approach to China but criticizes his execution. 

  • Ryan told CFR that he has spent his career fighting “bad trade deals” such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He says these deals have promoted the outsourcing of jobs and suppressed the wages of U.S. workers.
  • He has criticized Trump’s renegotiated NAFTA, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, for not doing enough to raise labor and environmental standards and increase wages.
  • He also opposed President Barack Obama’s signature Asia-Pacific trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), from which Trump withdrew. Ryan says the TPP was negotiated in secret, failed to lift labor standards abroad, and undermined countries’ abilities to regulate foreign corporations.
  • He believes in using tariffs to pressure China to reform its unfair trade practices, including intellectual property theft and illegal subsidies, and to reduce the trade deficit. However, he says that Trump’s tariffs are not targeted enough and have cost U.S. farmers, manufacturers, and consumers billions of dollars.
  • He told CFR that Africa represents a growing opportunity for U.S. producers, and that the United States, instead of China, should be supplying the continent with trade and investment.

Venezuela and Latin America

Ryan supports the Venezuelan opposition and backs Trump’s efforts to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to step down, but warns against any U.S. military intervention. Elsewhere in Latin America, Ryan wants to increase aid and improve diplomatic relations with Cuba. 

  • Ryan told CFR that the United States should use diplomacy and “robust economic sanctions” to pressure Maduro to step down. He backs Trump’s decision to support opposition leader Juan Guaido but says Washington must work through a “multi-government, non-military” coalition.
  • He opposes U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, given the “history of U.S. incursions” in Latin America.
  • He would increase foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to address the conditions that are leading record numbers of asylum seekers to flee to the United States. 
  • He supports restoring relations with Cuba “to a state in which the Obama administration left them,” after Trump reversed Obama’s moves toward lifting economic and travel restrictions on the island nation. “If we want Cuba to move to a democracy, we need to engage with them diplomatically,” he says.

This project was made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.