By David Skolnick
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, said his opponent, incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown, is a “liar,” who makes “false statements.”
“If anyone knows about not telling the truth, it’s Josh Mandel, who has repeatedly been branded a ‘pants-on-fire’ liar by nonpartisan fact-check organizations,” responded Justin Barasky, Brown’s campaign spokesman.
Mandel made the statements to The Vindicator on Monday after meeting at City Machine Technologies with local members of the National Federation of Independent Business. The organization of small-business owners has endorsed Mandel’s candidacy.
Mandel said Brown and his “team have shown they’re willing to lie about a lot of things.”
Mandel pointed to The Plain Dealer’s PolitiFact Ohio, a political fact-checking organization, for proof.
Mandel said PolitiFact determined Brown was “false” when he said in June 2011 that a Republican plan would end Medicare. The senator has since amended the statement to include “as we know it.”
But when told that PolitiFact found several of his statements to be “false,” “mostly false,” or “pants-on-fire,” Mandel said: “I disagree with them. They’re wrong.”
Mandel said he and Brown are “having a meaty, hearty public-policy debate.”
That’s in contrast to what officials with Brown’s re-election campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party have constantly said about Mandel’s refusal to take a position on several issues.
“Just because they say to you we’re not having a debate doesn’t make it a fact,” Mandel said.
“The only meaty, hearty debate that Josh Mandel’s having is where his next fundraiser should be and how much money he should pay his unqualified political cronies that he put in the treasurer’s office,” Barasky said.
During the NFIB meeting and after in an interview with this newspaper, Mandel said he and Brown strongly differ on several issues. Mandel opposes the federal health-care change, and Brown voted for it.
Mandel said he supports “responsible” drilling of oil and gas, and Brown sides “with federal bureaucrats to stop exploration of natural resources.” A Brown spokeswoman previously has said the senator “supports responsible domestic energy production.”
During his talk with local NFIB members, Mandel said he is a “strong supporter of uniforms in schools,” and has “no problem” with not permitting students to talk in hallways between classes. Both are ways to instill discipline in students, said Mandel, a former Marine.
But Mandel acknow-ledged those decisions should be made at the local level, and not by the state or federal governments.
“It’s incredibly troubling that Josh Mandel is willing to stand up and advocate a no talking in the hallways rule for local schools, but refuses to support a bill to stop student-loan interest rates from doubling,” Barasky said.
He was referring to a Brown bill to keep federal student-loan interest rates from doubling.
Mandel said he agrees a “solution” is needed to stop student loan interest rates from increasing, but wouldn’t say how, except that everything should be done to keep the rates down.
Mandel raised eyebrows in March when he told The Vindicator that he “respectfully disagreed” that the $82 billion government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009 saved the auto industry. At the time, he said he was developing a plan to “rescue the auto industry.”
When asked Monday about the bailout, Mandel said he’s “never had a position” on it and still doesn’t.
Mandel said he is working on a plan to strengthen manufacturing and the auto industry is included. The plan should be ready by late August, he said, along with plans for energy and agriculture.
Mandel unveiled his “jobs plan” Monday that he said replaces federal government failures with common-sense solutions.
Among his proposals is balancing the federal budget within 10 years, reducing discretionary spending, ending Wall Street bailouts, not increasing the debt ceiling, stopping all new federal regulations, reexamining every federal regulation, and allowing the Keystone Pipeline to proceed.