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DUBLIN, Ohio – Before he spoke at a party convention in northern Ohio two weeks ago, Brian Calle said he was “just going over some lines.”
He was not speaking on behalf of one of the state’s two Republican legislative chambers, nor was he speaking to a convention filled with thousands of Hispanics eager to hear the Republican presidential candidate speak on the first day of the GOP’s annual meeting.
But during his nearly 90-minute speech at the Columbus City Club on Tuesday, July 27 – one of nearly two dozen candidates in the GOP primary field – Calle was not shy when it came to voicing his views. And not everyone was happy.
Calle used the convention platform to make the case he is the best choice to lead the state, something he has not done so publicly before.
“I am not going to let you know any other candidate,” he said at the time. “I’ve been very transparent about what the issues are for me. I’ve been very transparent about what the issues are based on my experience. I don’t need for anyone to tell me what’s happening, what the facts are.”
That’s one reason the candidates who have come before him see him as someone who has not used campaign dollars to try to build a following with the GOP base.
“Calle is a good Republican, a smart Republican, a conservative Republican,” said Mike Dusseault, a GOP national committeeman and former state chairman. “He’s going to get votes for Republicans….
“I’m not going to say he’s the next Ronald Reagan or George Bush,” he added, referring to other GOP presidential candidates who have often played to the party’s base.
The state’s Republican Party has been a key supporter of Calle’s campaign, and other candidates, since he won the nomination in June. But party leaders are worried about how Calle will continue building his support after this spring’s primary election. Calle did not directly mention the party leaders, but he noted that in the past two weeks, he attracted a large number of party delegates through his grassroots