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Mandel, Brown clash in Columbus debate
Senate candidates accuse each other of lying
This story is part of a special series.

Karen Kasler

Ohio’s candidates for US Senate met for their second debate, broadcast to a live audience out of a TV studio in Columbus last night. Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler reports the event was once again lively and sometimes nasty, but offered little in the way of new views on the candidates.

Kasler on the fiery second Senate debate

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Both candidates seemed to get off to a rocky start – sounding and looking nervous as they made their opening arguments to an audience of about 300 supporters. 

Throughout the debate, Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown tripped through a few verbal stumbles as he addressed the audience in the studio, and Republican treasurer Josh Mandel had a few awkwardly long pauses in some answers as he looked directly into the camera. But the two went over a lot of the same ground covered in the City Club of Cleveland debate on Monday when it came to taxes, China and the auto bailout that Brown supported and Mandel would have opposed – they often even used the same lines. 

“Since he went there, unemployment up, gas prices up, health care costs up, foreclosure rates up. Senator, that’s quite a record,” Mandel said. 

“My opponent called my vote - and Sen. Voinovich’s vote I imagine, too, un-American. Un-American. My vote was doing my job to protect their jobs,” Brown retorted.

Mandel worked his theme that Brown is a career politician by calling his answers Washington speak – or some variation on that phrase – while Brown shot back that the first term treasurer was avoiding answering questions at all. But the most pointed exchange came in a question to Mandel about his experience to be a Senator, given that he’s held several elected offices for only short periods of time. Mandel said Brown had the wrong kind of experience, and Brown then noted Mandel had missed a year’s worth of monthly meetings as treasurer while also attending fundraising. 

“It’s just the work ethic and doing things with honor and integrity. Josh Mandel as an elected official has fallen fall short on the honesty and integrity quotient.” 

Mandel fired back.

“Well, Senator, I take personal offense to that. And you’re dead wrong. It’s why the Cleveland Plain Dealer called your attacks on me false, deceiving, dishonest, incorrect, quote unquote “lie of the year”. Senator, you are a liar.”

Brown blasted back. 

“What he’s citing out of the Plain Dealer is not quite right but Josh Mandel, as we know, has trouble telling the truth.”

Politifact said the claim by Democrats, including Brown, that Republicans had voted to end Medicare in Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget was last year’s Lie of the Year. But Politifact has also given the “pants on fire” rating to Mandel six times. The candidates watched their answer times much more closely than in their first debate, and the audience was on different behavior than the sell-out crowd of 13-hundred at the City Club of Cleveland on Monday. They were mostly quiet, except when Brown did run over one of his answer and was chided by the moderator, WBNS-TV’s Jerry Revish. 

On another subject, Brown said he supports the repeal of both the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and the state’s marriage defining amendment, while Mandel said he supports both but also will do everything to represent all Ohioans – in his words, regardless of their background. The candidates meet for one more debate, again before a small private audience in Cincinnati next Thursday.

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