Donald Trump barely has any official campaign presence in Ohio, the crucial swing state where he accepted the Republican presidential nomination two weeks ago.
A press release went out this week announcing a campaign office in West Chester, which is located about 25 miles north of Cincinnati, but it’s not entirely clear who sent the media statement, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The Trump campaign’s state director, Bob Paduchik, said his office hadn’t issued the release, which promised the office in former House Speaker John Boehner’s hometown would be “ground zero for the Trump campaign for this region” but wasn’t on official campaign stationery.
Paduchik said the office would be entirely staffed by volunteers, which he boasted was “another example of the tremendous enthusiasm for Mr. Trump’s campaign in SW Ohio and across the state.”
He’s probably going to need more than passion to win Ohio, which plays a deciding role in presidential politics.
The newspaper reported that Trump has been slow to hire staffers, raise money and broadcast commercials in the crucial swing state.
His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, opened two campaign offices last month in the Cincinnati area and has been airing TV ads in the state since May.
He’s got only one field staffer working in southwest Ohio, which is home to Cincinnati, Dayton and their suburbs.
Despite the meager campaign operations — and an open feud with the state’s GOP Gov. John Kasich and party leadership — five of eight recent public polls show Trump basically tied with Clinton.
He’s doing better than expected among Democratic voters in eastern and southern Ohio, but Trump must find a way to turn that support into votes.
Across the Ohio River, in northern Kentucky, Trump has many vocals supporters, including Eric Deters — a frequent talk radio guest who has been suspended by the Kentucky Bar Association for aggressive litigation and other ethical violations.
Deters claims to be a spokesman for the Trump campaign, but campaign volunteers insist he’s not, and the attorney threatened to sue the Enquirer when a reporter asked him to describe his role.
The West Chester press release directed queries to Mary Swain, the Republican elected clerk of courts for Butler County, whose anti-immigration Sheriff Richard Butler — a strong admirer of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio — will attend the volunteer office’s grand opening.
Voters in Ohio had chosen the presidential winner 93 percent of the time — or 28 out of 30 times — in elections dating back to 1896, the highest percentage of any state.
Ohio, which owns 18 electoral votes, isn’t the only key state where Trump has failed to build a strong campaign presence with less than 100 days until the Nov. 8 election.
Local Republican officials in Pennsylvania have expressed frustration with the Trump campaign, saying they’ve barely heard from the national team or seen little money to help get operations underway.
The Huffington Post tried calling the contact numbers for Trump campaign operations in all 50 states just days ahead of the Republican National Convention, but spoke to only six people who answered the phone.
Some states had no websites or contact numbers listed, and no messages were returned.