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Rep. Tim Ryan Says Biden Is The Candidate To Beat Trump

NOEL KING, HOST:

Joe Biden won primaries in nine of the 14 states that voted yesterday, Super Tuesday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: People are talking about a revolution. We started a movement. We've increased turnout.

(CHEERING)

BIDEN: The turnout's turned out for us.

(CHEERING)

BIDEN: That can deliver us to a moment where we can do extraordinary, extraordinary things.

KING: That was Biden speaking last night. He had some help in the form of endorsements from his former rivals, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke. And one more - Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who dropped out of the race back in October and endorsed Biden in November. Representative Ryan is on the line now.

Good morning, sir.

TIM RYAN: Good morning.

KING: So you are one of the originals (laughter). You endorsed Biden months ago. Why do you think he's the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in November?

RYAN: Well, it became evident yesterday. He can pull the coalition together in places like Texas but yet still win Maine and Minnesota. I think he's the best person to beat Donald Trump. And then, I think, even in the last couple days, there were the political maneuvers, you know, with Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete and Beto.

But it was also, you know, things like the coronavirus, where you watched President Trump kind of mishandle all of this stuff. People want some steady leadership, and I think it's becoming apparent that that's Joe Biden.

KING: There was a big demographic divide in the vote last night. Overwhelmingly, Latino voters went for Bernie Sanders. The black vote went to Joe Biden. Do you think Joe Biden can win Latino voters? This is a very important demographic and will be very important come the election.

RYAN: I don't think there's any question. I think that, you know, Senator Sanders has some support with, like, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who's a huge figure in the Latino community, and others, you know, I think that have helped. But I think at the end of the day, nothing's going to sharpen everybody's mind like the prospect of removing Donald Trump from office. And so I think that the coalition and the Democratic Party and - across the country is going to come together behind Joe Biden, and we're going to beat Donald Trump.

KING: Well, let me ask you the same question - relatively the same question about progressives. We know that there is a progressive bloc in this country that fiercely supports Bernie Sanders. And there are concerns that if Joe Biden wins the nomination, he's not going to be able to capture their vote. Let's talk practical - let's talk in practical terms here. What can Joe Biden do to win over that group of voters?

RYAN: Well, again, I think Donald Trump's going to provide an avenue for us to really articulate why Joe Biden is much better than Donald Trump and why progressives should not want another four years of Donald Trump. But let's get into the values and the rights that we all believe in, I think, as Democrats but most Americans.

Joe Biden believes that health care is a right. And he was instrumental in making sure that everybody in the United States had coverage, working with President Obama to pass the Affordable Care Act. That is not an insignificant thing. You look at where Joe Biden was with gay marriage. You look at him passing the Violence Against Women Act, on the assault weapons ban. I mean, he's got a really long record that will continue to come out that, I think, will make those folks comfortable to come back home...

KING: Yeah, no. Those folks aren't comfortable though. And I want to ask you specifically about health care. I mean, one of their main points - people who support Bernie Sanders - is Joe Biden simply does not go far enough on health care. Now, I hear what you're saying, that people may come around; people will come around. Why are you so sure that they'll come around? Health care is being fiercely debated in this country, and there are people who say Joe Biden simply does not have a plan that we want.

RYAN: Well, you know, (laughter) again, it's, you know, like the vice president says, you know, he's not the almighty, you know? I mean, he's the - he'll be the alternative to Donald Trump. And the fact that Donald Trump has tried, on several occasions, both in the House and the Senate, plans to take 20 million people off of their health care; the fact that he's in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to trying to lower prescription drug prices; you know, the fact that he has no concern for public health - I mean, Joe Biden's looking to expand health care with a public option, building on Obamacare. And he'll come out with, you know, more details as we move forward into the general election. That's a clear choice for anybody who - that believes that health care is a right.

And so I think, you know, obviously, we're in the heat of the battle now. This is how it goes. We've all been through these elections, moving from a primary to a general. I think progressives are going to come around. They're going to be comfortable with Joe Biden. He's going to lay out a big vision for the future of this country, and we need his steady leadership. So I think they're going to come around. But, you know, it's hard to say that when you're in the middle of the battle. But he's a clear choice, the much better choice than Donald Trump would be.

KING: Last question for you - does Joe Biden need the support of Bernie Sanders supporters if he's to win in November? Does he need them?

RYAN: No question - I mean, I don't think there's any question. We need to have all hands on deck. You know, you're going to need the progressives. You're going to need the Bernie Sanders supporters, the Elizabeth Warren supporters. You know, everybody's got to help us do this.

And the prospects of Donald Trump appointing another, you know, two or three people to the Supreme Court, continuing to roll back environmental regulations - I mean, this is another thing. We need to talk about climate change. The absolute worst thing you could do for climate is have Donald Trump in office for another four years.

So those supporters are going to come around. We want everybody in our coalition. And we're going to go out, and we're going to beat Donald Trump. And it's going to be a new day in the country. And we're going to have some steady leadership. And we're going to want every single vote that Bernie Sanders has gotten - or Elizabeth Warren - to come on board and help Joe Biden.

KING: Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, thank you so much for your time.

RYAN: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.