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Government and Politics

McCain helps Mandel raise more money for Ohio Senate run
Columbus appearance is followed by one with Chris Christie in a Cleveland suburb in which photos with the New Jersey governor cost $10,000
This story is part of a special series.

Karen Kasler
Josh Mandel says John McCain's ensorsement of him is an endorsement of future leadership.
Courtesy of Karen Kasler
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In The Region:

Since Josh Mandel won the Republican primary for US Senate in March, the Republican state treasurer has brought in some top names in GOP politics. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler talked with the latest big gun he brought in – a man who gets a lot of respect, but also a lot of criticism, from Republican voters

(Click image for larger view.)

U.S. Sen. John McCain spoke for only about 10 minutes, but clearly was the star of Josh Mandel’s first appearance Monday at a VFW hall in Hilliard west of Columbus.  Mandel, who was elected state treasurer last year, is challenging U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. And he said he welcomes the endorsement of the ex-prisoner of war and 2008 candidate for president, now in his fifth term in the Senate. 

“I called him to be here because I think this campaign is all about the past versus the future. I think this campaign is about leaving a strong America in the hands of the kids and the grandkids of our country.”

A relative newcomer
Mandel is 34 and has only been in elected office since 2003, when he was a city councilman in Lyndhurst near Cleveland. He was elected to the Legislature in 2006, and became treasurer in 2010. But Mandel’s relative inexperience in politics doesn’t seem to concern McCain. 

“I think he’s highly qualified, and therefore some of us who are maybe not at the beginning of our careers, shall we say, want to do everything we can to elect a new generation.

Qualified support
But some Republican voters have concerns not so much about Mandel, but about McCain. For years – even when he was running for president – he’s been blasted by some GOP pundits as being too moderate and too willing to deal with Democrats.

Ed Rothacker of Hilliard is a Vietnam vet who runs a charity at this VFW, providing music lessons to kids of active duty military families. He describes McCain as “a kind of ‘crossing the aisle’ kind of guy.”

Still, he says Mandel securing McCain’s support is a big deal.  “That doesn’t mean it’s a rubber stamp – everybody’s still their own person. And you know, we’ll see what Mandel can do.”

Vet first
Veteran Tim Savaglio drove up from Butler County to hear McCain speak. “Sen. McCain has the respect of veterans – he always has. He rises above any other complaints people may have. He, his stature as a veteran rises above everything else.”

Ex-Marine Sarah Plummer is a yoga instructor and a motivational speaker, and new to Ohio. She says she doesn’t know much about Mandel, but McCain’s reputation as a dealmaker and a moderate is a positive for her. 
“I’m not as hardline conservative on the Republican side, so to me, this was a good partnership here and one I was excited to see.”

Joining Christie in Cleveland 
Mandel and McCain left the VFW event for a fundraiser in Columbus – and it wasn’t Mandel’s last fundraiser of the day.  

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – a rising GOP star who also is a favorite of Tea Party voters – was the headliner at a northeast Ohio fundraiser later.

That didn’t go unnoticed by the campaign of incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. A spokesman wrote, “Josh Mandel can ignore his job and throw as many VIP fundraisers as he wants.” The spokesman blasted Mandel for his policies on tax cuts and the economy and for recent stories about Mandel hiring friends and campaign aids with little experience to run the treasurer’s office.

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