National Republicans were so adamant that the party isn't abandoning U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine's campaign that the Republican National Committee chairman held a hastily called teleconference with Ohio reporters to refute the claim.
During a Monday morning call, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman disputed the accuracy of a Sunday article in The New York Times about the GOP reducing financial support to DeWine because he is likely heading for defeat.
During the Monday teleconference, Mehlman said he strongly believes DeWine can beat U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, the Democratic challenger, on Nov. 7 pointing to polls showing a close race between the two.
The Times article says the decision to reduce DeWine's financial support was made after a series of internal Republican polls showed the GOP senator falling behind Brown. Mehlman said he doesn't comment on internal polls.
On Monday, public polls showed a very tight race with Brown holding a slim lead, but still within the margins of error of most of the surveys.
Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett, who is about to see his party lose its tight grip on state government, also chimed in Monday saying, "No political strategist worth their weight in salt would ever walk away from a race where the margin is less than five points."
Bennett followed it with this ridiculous/pathetic statement that shows how desperate he's become: "The fact is the national Democrats are afraid to lose this race so they've enlisted their friends in the media to spread lies in an attempt to discourage Republican voters and suppress their vote."
Perhaps it would have been a good idea for Mehlman to wait another day for the teleconference and for Bennett to simply keep quiet with his absurd conspiracy theory. The results of three polls released Tuesday show strong momentum for Brown, who enjoys double-digit leads in two of the surveys.
A CBS/New York Times poll has Brown winning by 14 percentage points, a Quinnipiac poll has him up by 12 percentage points and a University of Cincinnati Ohio Poll has the Democrat winning by 7 percentage points.
Because of the recent polls Congressional Quarterly, a Capitol Hill newspaper and Web site, recently changed the DeWine-Brown race from "no clear favorite" to "leans Democratic."
Zogby Interactive, probably the most cautious polling agency, has Brown winning by 4.3 percentage points in a survey released Wednesday. The agency's last two polls on the race showed Brown with a lead of 4.1 percentage points on Sept. 28 and ahead by 4 on Sept. 11.
National Republicans have spent close to 5 million to help DeWine with little to show for it. Mehlman and other national Republican leaders say they will continue to spend money on this race.
Also, DeWine's campaign had about 4.5 million cash on hand as of Sept. 30 compared to about 1.2 million for Brown. But national Democratic organizations have and will spend millions of dollars to help Brown, particularly because polls show him winning.
Republicans cannot afford to lose this seat as well as the races for elected executive positions in Ohio including governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general and auditor.
Public polls show Democrats winning all of those seats besides attorney general -- and if the anti-Republican sentiment in Ohio continues, that race between Republican Betty Montgomery and Democrat Marc Dann could be extremely close.
If Democrats win most or all of these races the party's 2008 presidential nominee would be in a much better position to carry Ohio than Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. That's because there were no elected statewide Democrats campaigning with the two failed presidential nominees in Ohio, considered one of a handful of swing states in the nation.
The story would be quite different in 2008 if the Democratic nominee spent as much time in Ohio as Kerry did two years ago and shared the stage with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Gov. Ted Strickland instead of U.S. Reps. Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland.