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Mandel Confirms Opposition to Auto Rescue in Debate
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel said Monday he would have opposed federal aid to the auto industry. The Republican senatorial candidate's statement came during his debate with U.S. Sen. Brown, who Mandel is trying to unseat Nov. 6
Aid to the auto industry, which Democrats and organized labor credit with preserving more than 800,000 jobs in Ohio, was among the points of contention in the nearly hour-long debate, held at the City Club in Cleveland and carried live on C-SPAN nationally and on local TV stations including WKBN.
Brown, nearing the end of his first term as U.S. senator, and Mandel, not yet two years into his first term as state treasurer, clashed repeatedly during their first faceoff, leaving little doubt about the differences between the candidates on issues ranging from the federal stimulus to women’s rights.
Elusive on the auto rescue issue prior to Monday’s debate, Mandel, in response to a question by one of the panelists on whether the auto rescue was a boon to Ohio, said he couldn’t have supported it, citing its impact on Delphi retirees who lost part of their pensions, and mechanics and sales people at dealerships that closed. He characterized Brown as “the bailout senator,” and accused him of bailing out Wall Street, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and large corporations.
“Josh, do you know about the Chevy Cruze and the Chevy Eco?” Brown questioned in rebuttal. “That you would be so out of step with Sen. [George] Voinovich and Congressman [Steve] LaTourette, with senators and congressmen of both parties all over the Midwest, to vote against the auto rescue, just boggles my mind.”
Brown, in his opening statement, outlined his commitment to middle-class constituents across Ohio, from crafting legislation to assist farmers to working with the administration of first President George W. Bush and later Barack Obama to aid the automobile industry.
“This job is about real people with real families and real problems with real hopes and dream,” Brown said. “Yet Josh Mandel said my vote for the auto rescue, and I assume Senator Voinovich’s vote, too, was un-American. … I call that vote doing my job to fight for their jobs.”
Mandel’s opening statement sought to portray Brown as part of a Washington that is broken “because of career politicians who care more about their party than about their state.” That is why he is running for U.S. Senate, he said. “The only way to change Washington is to change the people there,” he said.
During Brown’s time in Washington, Mandel said, college tuition is up, unemployment is high and political partisanship is as well.
Mandel, responding to a question as to whether he tied his hands and “sacrificed [his] independence by signing lobbyist Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, Mandel said he is proud to stand up for lower taxes. “We cannot tax out way to prosperity,” he said.
Signing that pledge also means being unable to close tax loopholes, Brown responded, and he accused Mandel of giving away his right to think.
In response to Brown’s statement that he takes “a back seat to nobody” on working on a bipartisan basis, Mandel retorted, “You take a back seat to everyone in bipartisanship.”
During the debate, Brown defended the federal stimulus spending in the American Recovery Act, which he voted for in 2009, and said it worked to bring the unemployment rate down, although not as much as had been hoped because the nation’s financial problems were worse that even most economists understood. He pointed to a steel mill in Lorain as one example of the stimulus’ success.
Mandel said the stimulus “obviously didn’t work,” citing the failed investment in the green energy company Solyndra.
In response to a question from the audience regarding negative insinuations about Muslims made when he ran for treasurer two years ago, Mandel, who served in the Marines, said he spent five months of his life defending Muslims and that his main problem is with radical Islam, which treats women as second-class citizens. A subsequent audience question challenged Mandel on equal pay for women.
Mandel said Brown “lied” over term limits. Brown countered that his opponent has run for four different offices in seven years, and promised to serve his full term as Ohio treasurer.
Mandel identified himself as “pro-life,” while Brown said he trusted women to make their own health-care decisions.
The chairman of the candidates’ respective political parties heaped expected praise on their respective standard bearers following the debate.
Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, commended Mandel on a “superb debate performance” and remarked that Ohioans will be happy to retire Brown’s “reputation as a big spender” from the U.S. Senate. "Josh Mandel was right today when he said you change Washington by choosing who you send there and I believe many Ohioans see him as that change,” Bennett said. As Ohio treasurer Mandel “has been a steward of Ohio's investments” and his “relentless leadership” is needed in Washington “to cut wasteful spending, stop reckless borrowing and to reform coercive Washington regulations supported by Sherrod Brown."
The choice in the Senate race “could not be clearer,” said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. In Brown, “Ohioans have a fighter for the middle class who led the charge to pass the auto rescue package that helped to protect 850,000 Ohio jobs, stood up for Ohio manufacturing jobs in the face of Chinese trade policies and who will continue protecting Social Security and Medicare,” he said. “This contrasted starkly with the consummate 'cartoon candidate' Josh Mandel, a politician who can't be trusted to show up for work or hire qualified staff and who today doubled down on his opposition to the auto industry rescue with callous disregard for the 850,000 Ohio jobs it protected."
Copyright 2012 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.