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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., administers the House oath of office to Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, during ceremonial swearing-in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, during the opening session of the 116th Congress. (AP) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., administers the House oath of office to Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, during ceremonial swearing-in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, during the opening session of the 116th Congress. (AP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., administers the House oath of office to Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, during ceremonial swearing-in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, during the opening session of the 116th Congress. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman October 4, 2022

What’s ‘love’ got to do with it? Ad shows Ryan’s support for Pelosi, but omits bid to replace her

If Your Time is short

  • Ryan wasn’t just professing "love for Pelosi." He was saying that despite his love, it was time for new party leadership after Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016.

  • Ryan ran against Pelosi for House Democratic leader and lost.

  • Ryan has voted consistently with President Joe Biden’s position, and to a slightly lesser extent, usually votes the same way as Pelosi. He disagreed with Biden on student debt forgiveness and with Pelosi on a ban for members making individual stock trades.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan faces a challenge running as a Democrat in Ohio, a state Donald Trump won in 2020 by 8 percentage points. Ryan’s strategy in the Senate race against Republican J.D. Vance is to portray himself as independent of party leaders.

A new ad from Vance calls this strategy "a tale of two Tims."

"TV Tim Ryan pretends he is with you," Vance says. The ad rolls a clip of Ryan saying in his own TV ad, "I don’t answer to any political party."

Vance continues: "But D.C. Tim votes with Biden, Pelosi 100%."

The ad pivots to a clip of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow saying to Ryan, "You’ve said that you don’t like Nancy Pelosi, you love Nancy Pelosi."

Ryan responds: "Yeah, I do love her." 

The clip omits an important "but;" Ryan went on to say that despite his love, it was time for a new Democratic leader in the U.S. House — Ryan himself. The clip was from 2016, when Pelosi was vying to remain the House minority leader after Trump’s presidential win.

Although Ryan votes with Pelosi’s priorities most of the time, he has disagreed with her on some topics. 

"Tim Ryan doesn't sound like Nancy Pelosi, doesn't act like Nancy Pelosi, he's never lived a day in San Francisco, and he tried to dethrone her from leadership," said David Niven, political scientist and associate professor at the University of Cincinnati. "To say that one of the few Democrats to ever mount a challenge to Nancy Pelosi's leadership is somehow a Pelosi clone is just silly." 

Ryan said he loved Pelosi, but ran against her for House minority leader in 2016

Pelosi, a longtime House member from San Francisco, has led the lower chamber’s Democratic caucus as speaker or minority leader since 2003. Ryan supported Pelosi’s previous leadership bids from 2003 to 2015.

When Trump won the presidential election in 2016, Ryan announced his own bid for caucus leader.

In multiple interviews, Ryan said that he loved Pelosi, but it was time for a new leader who could attract Trump voters in red areas, including the Midwest and the South, to vote for Democrats. 

"Let me just say, I love Nancy Pelosi," Ryan said on CNN on Nov. 16, 2016. Ryan said she was a "terrific fundraiser" and wasn’t at fault for Democrats losing the election.

He made similar comments on MSNBC before, asking, "The question is, are we going to take the House back and can we take the House back?"

Featured Fact-check

In Ryan’s interview with Maddow on Nov. 17, 2016, the same one that plays in Vance’s ad, Maddow asked what Ryan would do differently as the Democrats’ leader.

Ryan replied, "Yes, I do love her. And this is tough, because this is a battle kind of within the family." 

Ryan said Democrats need a leader who can persuade Trump voters in red districts in the Midwest to re-enter the Democratic fold, and "I think I can do that." 

Two weeks later, Ryan lost, and Pelosi was re-elected by her colleagues as House Democratic leader by a 134-63 vote.

In November 2018, after Democrats took control of the House, Ryan signed a letter with 15 other House Democrats saying they wanted a new leader. Ryan declined to run but said he would support U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio if she ran. A month later, Ryan announced he would support Pelosi if she agreed to leave the speaker position by the end of the next Congress or the following one if she didn’t get support from two-thirds of House Democrats. (She cleared that two-thirds hurdle easily in 2019 and 2021.)

Ryan has consistently voted with Biden and Pelosi

Ryan’s voting record does show alignment with the priorities of President Joe Biden and Pelosi.

FiveThirtyEight, a website that analyzes data, including lawmakers’ records, found that Ryan voted with Biden 100% during the current Congress. That is not unusual for House Democrats; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., a member of the party’s progressive wing, voted with Biden about 94% of the time.

ProPublica, an investigative news outlet, analyzed major votes by lawmakers and found Ryan voted with Pelosi 100% in the current Congress and the previous Congress

One caveat: Pelosi rarely votes — a tradition among House speakers. That means the comparison between Ryan and Pelosi is based only on the votes in which they both participated. She voted fewer than 80 times during the 116th Congress (2019-21), making it much more likely that she and Ryan (or any Democrat) voted with her.

Ryan has disagreed with Democratic leaders on some issues.

He is one of dozens of co-sponsors of the Trust in Congress Act that would prevent lawmakers and immediate family members from trading stocks. Pelosi initially said the bill was unnecessary but later said the House could vote on it. The legislation’s sponsors say that Pelosi, whose husband trades individual stocks, has dragged her feet on bringing the bill to a vote.

Ryan has also criticized Biden’s plan to eliminate student debt, saying it "sends the wrong message to the millions of Ohioans without a degree working just as hard to make ends meet." 

Ryan’s campaign pointed to multiple votes on trade, agriculture, military or the budget on which he disagreed with Pelosi. Ryan voted for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which passed during a government shutdown, funding the government for several weeks and raising spending limits for two years. Ryan also broke from Pelosi in opposing the USA Freedom Act of 2014, which sought to end the National Security Agency’s bulk phone records collection program. 

Our ruling

The Vance ad highlights Ryan’s "love" for Pelosi and his overlapping voting record with Pelosi and Biden. 

Ryan’s voting record in the current Congress does align with Biden’s agenda and Pelosi’s recent votes, though as House speaker she does not vote on every measure.

But the more glaring issue with the ad is that it snips out Ryan’s explanation of why he thought Pelosi should no longer lead the party. Vance’s ad does not account for Ryan’s notable decision to challenge Pelosi’s leadership after the 2016 election, leaving viewers without the full story. 

Vance’s statement is partially accurate but takes things out of context. We rate this statement Half True.

RELATED: All of our fact-checks about Ohio 

Our Sources

J.D. Vance campaign, Two Tims Tv ad, Sept. 23, 2022

CNN Wire, Rep. Tim Ryan outlines vision: 'What's America 2.0 look like?' Nov. 16, 2022

MSNBC Hardball, Trump Transition Team Chaos, Nov. 16, 2016

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript, Nov. 17, 2016

Fivethirtyeight, Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden? Updated Sept. 28, 2022

WVXU, Analysis: Is Democrat Tim Ryan running against his own party? June 23, 2022

AP, ​​Pelosi challenger: House Dems need new message and messenger, Nov. 27, 2016

MSNBC, ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES for November 18, 2016

AP, AP: Trump won 3.1M votes in Ohio, a new state record, Nov. 23, 2020

Columbus Dispatch, Tim Ryan: Nancy Pelosi is wrong. 'Congressional day-traders' terrible for America, Jan. 28, 2022

Fivethirtyeight, Latest polls, Accessed Oct. 3, 2022

Sabato’s Crystal Ball, 2022 Senate ratings, Aug. 31, 2022

Inside Elections, Ohio Senate race rating, Accessed Oct. 3, 2022

ProPublica, Head to Head: Compare Voting Records – Pelosi and Ryan in 2022-2011

ProPublica, House Vote 69 - Passes Bill to Raise Spending & Reopen Government, Feb. 9, 2018

ProPublica, House Vote 230 - Limits N.S.A., May 22, 2014

ProPublica, House Vote 89 - Approves Stopgap Spending Measure, March 21, 2013

ProPublica, House Vote 31 - Passes Farm Bill, Jan. 29, 2014, Votes on house speaker  2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015, Tim Ryan signs letter pledging to vote against Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker, Nov. 19, 2018, H.R.336 - TRUST in Congress Act, Jan. 15, 2021

The Hill, Lawmakers furious at Democratic leaders after stock trading ban stalls, Sept. 30, 2022

Fox News, Democrat Tim Ryan breaks with Biden over student loan debt handout, says it 'sends the wrong message' Aug. 24, 2022

AP, Nancy Pelosi secures votes to become House Speaker through term limits deal with dissidents including Rep. Tim Ryan, Dec. 12, 2018

Email interview, Luke Schroeder, J.D. Vance campaign spokesperson, Sept. 30, 2022

Email interview, Izzi Levy, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan campaign spokesperson, Oct. 3, 2022

Email interview, David Niven, political scientist at University of Cincinnati, Oct. 3, 2022

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What’s ‘love’ got to do with it? Ad shows Ryan’s support for Pelosi, but omits bid to replace her

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