Foreign Policy, Foreign Trade Separate Brown and DeWine


Foreign policy and foreign trade are two defining issues in hot race for US Senate in Ohio. Incumbent Republican Mike DeWine is struggling to hold off a challenge from Democrat Sherrod Brown. The two men have very different views on fighting terrorism and the impact of global trade agreements.

In a state that’s polarized over foreign policy, Mike DeWine and Sherrod Brown are polar opposites. And their opposite stances can cause their tempers boil over – like they did during a debate earlier this month on NBC’s Meet The Press.

Republican Mike DeWine is seeking his 3rd term in the senate. Democrat Sherrod Brown gave up a secure seat in the US house to run against DeWine. DeWine’s views range from conservative to moderate and he easily won his first two senate bids. But scandals involving Ohio Republicans and growing discontent over the Iraq war have helped the liberal Brown mount a serious challenge.

Senator DeWine voted for the Iraq War and the Patriot Act Congressman Brown voted against them. From the beginning of his campaign, DeWine has tried to portray Brown as soft on terrorism in early television ads.

Brown who started his campaign talking about economic issues- changed course and fought back with his own ads challenging DeWine’s position on the Senate Intelligence committee.

Brown says one way to bolster national security is to withdraw from Iraq. He says he wants the military to develop an exit strategy in the next 18-months to two years. In a local TV debate last week, he said such a plan, would provide an incentive for Iraqis to take control of their own country and allow the US military to focus on other areas.

“It’s clear this war in Iraq.. is not only making us less save its causing us to lose our focus on the real war on terrorism around the world. The Taliban has gotten strong in Afganistan. We’ve seen what’s happened in North Korea we know that Iran is increasingly dangerous and we’re not protecting our own country,” said Brown.

While DeWine says he has concerns about the adminstration’s Iraq strategy, he opposes setting a specific timetable for withdrawing US troops from Iraq..

“It would bring chaos and a civil war in Ira.. and chaos into the region Iran would be the biggest beneficiary of this.. And Iraq would then become what Afghanistan was in the 1990′s, only worse- a safe haven for terrorists,” argued DeWine.

Foreign Trade also sharply divides the two men. DeWine supports the North American Free Trade Agreement and voted for the Central American Free Trade agreement. Brown is a vocal critic of both. In a state where the unemployment rate tops the national average, Brown argues NAFTA and CAFTA have cost thousands of Ohioans their jobs.

The problem with these trade agreements…The biggest export under these trade agreements is jobs to Mexico and jobs to China.

DeWine counters that free trade helps Ohio businesses.

“Congressman Brown thinks you can build a wall around the state of Ohio and not trade. We have to trade. One Fourth of manufacturing products are sold oversees, One fourth of our agricultural products are sold oversees. 13-thousand Ohio Companies sell oversees.”

University of Akron Political Science Professor John Green says we are seeing a classic Ohio campaign. He says the candidates’ stances on foreign policy and foreign trade reflect their political bases.

A state-wide poll shows Ohioans are evenly divided along party lines over support of the Iraq war.

As for foreign trade, voters in Brown’s home base of industrial Northeastern Ohio blame free trade agreements for the loss tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs. While farmers in DeWine’s rural southwestern Ohio home base have reaped the rewards of free trade.

Professor Green says both candidates are shoring up their bases and fighting over the people in the middle.

“And Because Ohio is so polarized and has been for quite a while, there are not that many people in the middle. So it will be a fierce battle for the last handful of votes,” said Green.

Recent polls show those people in the middle may be breaking Brown’s way. Polls taken in the last couple weeks show the Democratic challenger with leads of 7 to 12 points.