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Political strategists discuss the state's political climate
Tension builds as Election Day nears
This story is part of a special series.

Karen Kasler

Election Day is a little over four months away, but there’s already been a lot of activity in Ohio. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler sat down with two veteran political strategists to talk about the hot political climate that’s building in Ohio this summer.

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David Leland is the former head of the Ohio Democratic Party and was an official with the Democratic National Committee. Mark Weaver has run several statewide and national campaigns for Republicans. And while they are friendly with one another, they don’t agree on much – including who they think will spend the most money in the US Senate race – incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown and his supporters, or Republican treasurer Josh Mandel and his backers. 
“Weaver: The union SuperPACs, the liberal SuperPACs – 
Leland: Okay, I’ll bet you a thousand dollars right here, Mark. 
Weaver: - 
Leland: That Josh Mandel outspends Sherrod Brown 2-1 with the SuperPACs. 
Weaver: Oh, absolutely not. Absolutely not. 
Leland: You want to make that bet right now? 
Weaver: It’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen. 
Leland: (laughs) Okay.” 

Leland says while he thinks Obama will win Ohio, he thinks Brown will get more votes than Obama. Weaver says he’s confident Romney will take Ohio, but he thinks Mandel will also win because some Obama voters will also cast ballots for Mandel. Leland says political experts nationwide are zeroing in on Ohio as the state with the best chance to swing the presidential race one way or another. But Leland says polls have shown making US Senator Rob Portman of Cincinnati the Republican nominee for vice president doesn’t guarantee a win for Romney. And he adds that Portman’s apparent popularity with national pundits may work against him. 
“I think that everybody was thinking that Portman was the obvious choice, but now because everything thinks it’s the obvious choice, I’m thinking that there may be some other, something else going on in that choice.”

Weaver says he has no inside information about his place on the VP short list, but that he’s pulling for Portman. 
“I really believe Mitt Romney when he says there are only two or three people who know who’s likely to get it. I’m biased, because Rob Portman is a friend and a client in the past and I’m a big supporter of his. I think he’d be an excellent pick.”

And While Leland and Weaver agree the economy will be the voters’ top issue, they disagree how they’ll view it. 
“Leland: Things are definitely better than they were when Barack Obama started. 
Kasler:  Is President Obama going to get the credit, or is John Kasich going to get some of the credit in Ohio? 
Leland: Well, looking from the poll numbers that John Kasich currently has, which he’s still having trouble breaking 40%, I think that this moment in time and in the next four months, I think if there’s any credit to be given for the economy it’ll probably go to Barack Obama. 
Weaver: Nobody thinks that, but John Kasich will get the credit for Ohio’s – 
Kasler: And not President Obama? 
Weaver: No, because nationally, we are in trouble. The only people who believe that the job situation is better under Barack Obama are the Democrats.”

Leland adds that he thinks the US Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama’s health insurance reform law won’t have much of an impact on the presidential race, because many voters have made up their minds about the law. But Weaver says he thinks it will serve as a catalyst to drive those who oppose it to the polls.” 

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