XENIA, OHIO – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, currently running in the GOP Primary for U.S. Senate, spoke to Fox News Digital on the campaign trail in Ohio this week and explained why he believes he’s the candidate Democrats fear most and why his conservative message will shine through a crowded primary field in a hotly contested race.
“When I say that we’ve got a country to save that’s not exaggeration at this point, the left is trying to take this country in a fundamentally dangerous direction,” LaRose, a 44-year-old father of three who has served as Ohio’s Secretary of State since 2019, told Fox News Digital on Monday evening inside a Coffee Hub location in Xenia, Ohio, about 15 miles east of Dayton and 50 miles northeast of Cincinnati.
“I’ve long had this belief that each generation is responsible for leaving this country better than we found it, right? A little bit stronger, a little bit freer, a little bit more prosperous. I think if we don’t act soon, our generation will be the first in American history to leave this country weaker, poorer and less secure.”
The Ohio Senate race is expected to be one of the tightest and most contentious in the country and is one of only 3 Senate races listed as a “toss up” by the Cook Political Report, along with Arizona and Montana.
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A recent Emerson College poll shows LaRose, businessman Bernie Moreno, and State. Sen. Matt Dolan, in a neck and neck race with all 3 polling within a point or two of incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown and 22% of GOP primary voters supporting Moreno, 21% LaRose and 15% Dolan with 42% of voters still undecided.
The poll represents a dramatic shift from November when Emerson College had Brown, the only Democrat to win statewide in Ohio in the past decade, beating Dolan by three points, LaRose by five, and Moreno by 11.
After speaking with Fox News Digital, LaRose walked down Main Street to the Greene County GOP headquarters where he took questions from a group of engaged conservatives in a county where Trump won by 20 points in 2020. Voters wanted to hear about LaRose’s allegiance to the former president and although Trump endorsed Moreno in the primary, LaRose made it clear that he’s a firm supporter of Trump.
“100%,” LaRose, who has faced scrutiny from some conservatives over past criticisms of Trump, told an audience member when asked if he fully supports the former president.
“Listen, I’ll give you an example, I told you that I was hired by President Trump to help run his inaugural committee. I literally buckled his grandchildren into their motorcade vehicles for the ride down Pennsylvania Avenue. I am a loyal Trump supporter. I’ve endorsed him. I was one of the first to endorse him. I can tell you this, I will stand with President Trump to accomplish his agenda. I will work for the people of Ohio, that’s who my first loyalty is to, but I will work with President Trump to accomplish his agenda when he’s in the White House and I’m in the U.S. Senate.”
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“I’m a proud supporter of his,” LaRose told Fox News Digital. “I believe he’s going to be in the White House in 2025, but we need to take back the Senate if we’re going to get his policies done, get his appointees through the process. And so in that sense, making sure that we have the strongest candidate to beat Sherrod Brown needs to be what Ohio Republicans are focused on.”
In terms of beating Brown, who has represented Ohio as a Democrat in the Senate since 2007, LaRose has consistently made the case on the campaign trail that he is best positioned to beat Brown, who he referred to as a “fraud”, in November.
“I’m the one that Sherrod is the most afraid of. It’s pretty clear and the old saying is they only try to tackle you when you have the ball,” LaRose told Fox News Digital. “The Democrats have been attacking me because they know I’m the most dangerous weapon against Sherrod Brown.”
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“I think it’s pretty clear that I’m the one that has the wherewithal to defeat this tough federal Democrat incumbent, but it’s not good enough to just beat him with another sort of go along, get along Republican,” LaRose added, outlining his pitch that he has the most conservative record in the race.
“The two guys that are also running in this race are part of that kind of corporate establishment. I think it’s important that we send somebody to D.C. who’s a proven conservative. Everybody’s going to call themselves a conservative in the Republican primary. We need somebody who we know is going to fight for our values. I’m proven on it. I’m the only candidate in this race who’s a lifelong Republican. I’ve never been a registered Democrat.”
The three GOP Senate candidates faced off in their first of three debates last month and in addition to jockeying for the position as the most conservative, immigration was the most hotly contested topic in the debate and is an issue LaRose told Fox News Digital where his resume is the strongest.
“I was on the border over 20 years ago in uniform as a member of the United States Army,” LaRose, a former Green Beret who earned a Bronze Star serving in Iraq, explained. “Securing the border is absolutely fundamental, I actually served out there and so that’s a unique life experience that I’ve had. I was part of a counter-narcotics task force as a soldier with the 101st Airborne Division down on the U.S. Mexican border. We know what it takes. I’m the one that has a plan to get it done.”
LaRose, who told Fox News Digital he would vote against the immigration bill currently being debated in the Senate and supports impeaching DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, reiterated his plan for the border while speaking to Republicans in Xenia on Monday night.
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“My plan is very clear,” LaRose told the room. “We need to send three divisions to the border. That’s about 60,000 troops. There’s one entity that is capable of ending this invasion and it is only the United States military that can restore order on the US-Mexico border.”
“We also need to make sure that people know that there will be no benefit to coming here illegally. If you break into our country, we will not reward you. That means no amnesty. That means we must make a clear statement that if you come into this country illegally, you will never be eligible for citizenship. Your offspring will not be eligible for birthright citizenship. You will not be able to ever get U.S. government benefits and you will not be able to take advantage of the asylum process which is being abused right now by people that come into this country illegally and then claim that they were in danger in their home country and want to stay.”
Although Americans across the country have told pollsters that their biggest concern is immigration, the biggest applause line of the night for LaRose came on an issue that has been a top concern for Ohio voters in recent years, parental rights, which LaRose told Fox News Digital is one of the top 3 issues that comes up when he talks to voters across the Buckeye State.
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Nobody knows better than parents how kids should be educated,” LaRose said after slamming the “arrogance” of President Biden’s Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “By the way, it’s time that we put our foot down and say we want our children to be educated and not indoctrinated. This nonsense of teaching our children to hate each other based on race, or to hate this country based on some skewed version of our history, that has to end.”
“We need to restore parents’ rights and involvement in education, that means school choice across all 50 states. That means eliminating the U.S. Department of Education. Here’s another thing, anyone who would dare subject a minor child to a gender transition. That’s child abuse.”
Over the past year in Ohio, parental rights have been on center stage with a measure pushed by Democrats that successfully enshrined abortion into the state’s constitution and legislation pushed by Republicans that banned biological males from women’s sports that was vetoed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine but later overruled by the GOP controlled legislature.
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“The governor made a bad decision a few weeks ago and thank God our state legislature overturned that,” LaRose told the crowd. “You know, I always stand up and protect children. And for another thing, my three girls could beat the boys on the basketball court, but they shouldn’t have to. The only way for sports to be safe for our kids is for girls to play against girls, and boys to play against boys. Guys, this is common sense.“
Although he missed out on the coveted endorsements of Trump and Ohio GOP Sen. J.D. Vance, who also endorsed Moreno, LaRose touted other key endorsements he’s received including the Buckeye Firearms Association, one of the largest Second Amendment groups in the state.
On Tuesday, LaRose secured the endorsement of prominent Dayton area GOP Congressman Mike Turner who touted LaRose’s “proven track record of fighting for families, workers, and small businesses in the Ohio State Senate and as our Secretary of State.
“I’m confident we’re going to win it if I’m outspent,” LaRose told Fox News Digital.
LaRose is indeed getting outspent by Moreno and Dolan who both have amassed a significant personal fortune, according to recent Federal Election Commission filings reported earlier this week.
LaRose acknowledged that he is “not the wealthiest guy in the race” by a “long shot” but says his campaign is working on”getting our message out there” and he is “confident” that Ohioans will begin paying closer attention to the race as the March 19 primary nears and “realize there’s only one battle tested, proven conservative that can beat Sherrod Brown.”
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“I’m asking you for two things,” LaRose said in his closing remarks to the room full of Republicans in Xenia. “I’m asking you for your vote, and I believe in earning it, I’m here for the job interview. I’m asking you for your vote so that we can beat Sherrod Brown in November and take this country back and save this country.
“But more important than that, I’m asking for your prayers. Pray for me, my family also pray for my opponents. You’re not going to hear anybody else say that. Now, don’t pray for them to win. But do pray for them, I mean that, a campaign is an enormously stressful undertaking. I’m not complaining. It’s a lot of time away from your family, time on the road, so pray for, for all of our candidates and with your vote and with your prayers. I’ll beat Sherrod Brown this November, and we’ll put our country back on track.”
Fox News Digital reached out to Sen. Brown’s campaign for comment but did not receive a response.
Fox News Digital’s Aubrie Spady contributed to this report