Senate Candidates Criticize Presidential Candidates

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The two major party candidates for US Senate in Ohio held their third and final debate in Cleveland last night at the Idea Center.  Freshman Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, faced former Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat.  As ideastream’s Mark Urycki reports, each tried to link the other to his party’s presidential candidate. 

 

The default campaign mode for these two has been Ted Strickland blaming Rob Portman for trade deals with China while Portman blames Strickland for causing the Great Recession.

Last night they linked each other to the top of their party’s ticket.  Portman has recently distanced himself from Donald Trump but Strickland thought it took long.

“He stood by Donald Trump when he called women pigs and when he mocked a disabled person.  And it wasn’t until it was in his political calculation to try to disassociate himself.”

Portman said his Democratic opponent should have condemned Hillary Clinton.

“When Hillary Clinton called half of Donald Trump’s supporters deplorable, said they were irredeemable, said they were racists, Ted Strickland didn’t stand up.  He still hasn’t to this day to condemn those comments.”

Portman was asked about comments from another prominent Republican, Senator John McCain who said if Clinton is elected, Republicans would vote against any US Supreme Court nominee she proposes.  Portman says he’s been open minded to judicial nominees.

“There are many of Barack Obama’s nominees who I found were not qualified for the court and I could not support.  But many I did support including his appointments to executive office as well as the court.  I look at each one on their merits, Karen, and that’s what we have to do.  So no, I don’t agree we should automatically bock nominees.” 

But Strickland argued Portman has been blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee this past year.

“For months he has blocked Judge Garland.  He says this man should not have a hearing or get a vote.  He has disrespected the President and he has failed to carry out his constitutional obligation.”  

Democrats changed the senate rules to require only a majority vote in the Senate so they could get some of the president’s federal judge nominees approved.  Portman said he would like to raise that up to a 60 member approval threshold because it would require bipartisan support for a nominee.

On questions about global warming, Strickland backed the Obama administration’s proposal to set strict limits on carbon emissions at coal-burning plants.   

“Senator Portman opposes President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.  I, as governor, passed an energy bill that had efficiency standards and renewable standards and we’re seeing major investments in Ohio in wind and solar.”

Obama’s plan is now stuck, awaiting an appeals court decision.  Portman argues his opponent is bad for Ohio’s coal and gas industry and is losing support because of it.

“When he lost his election he moved to Washington.  He joined up with a group there -- a lobbying group.   He was their chief lobbyist.  And that group took on our Ohio interests -- energy interest, coal interest, natural gas interest, and supported over-regulation.”

Both candidates largely agreed on guns – that background checks should be required for people who are on the federal no-fly list.  They both agreed that the federal government has a role to play in funding treatment for opiate addiction.   

But they clashed over Obamacare.   Rob Portman says premiums have skyrocketed.

“Both candidates, Ted Strickland and Rob Portman know that.  We have to know that.  It’s not working for Ohio.  We have to replace it with something that is patient-centered that gets more competition into the system, that gives people more choice, that does keep some of the good parts.”

Strickland says it needs to be improved but it should remain.

“What the senator is suggesting if you repeal it, you allow insurance companies once again to charge women more than men for health care.   You allow insurance companies to say ‘If you have a pre-existing condition we’re not going to insure you.’”

Another candidate was nearby with his own ideas.   Green Party nominee Joe Demare was out on the sidewalk with supporters.   He says Ohioans have a right to know what other candidates propose.   

"If they don’t even know these basic things about our party then they are not really making a fair choice at the ballot because they don’t know what they are being denied the right to vote for.”  

An official from the organizer, The City Club of Cleveland, said if they had insisted on including third party candidates, the debate would never have occurred.

 

Mark.Urycki@ideastream.org

 

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