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McCain Endorses “Highly Qualified” Mandel
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Since Josh Mandel won the Republican primary for US Senate in March, the Republican state treasurer has brought in some top names in GOP politics. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler talked with the latest big gun he brought in – a man who gets a lot of respect, but also a lot of criticism, from Republican voters.
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He only spoke for 10 minutes, but it was clear that Republican US Senator John McCain was the star of Josh Mandel’s event at a VFW hall in Hilliard west of Columbus. The treasurer introduced the ex-prisoner of war in Vietnam and former candidate for President, now in his fifth term in the Senate. Mandel said while he wasn’t sure what McCain would say about why he wanted to weigh in on the Senate race in Ohio, he was sure he wanted his endorsement.
“I called him to be here because I think this campaign is all about the past versus the future. I think this campaign is about leaving a strong America in the hands of the kids and the grandkids of our country.”
Mandel is 34, and has only been in elected office since 2003, when he was a city councilman in Lyndhurst near Cleveland. He was elected to the legislature in 2006, and became treasurer in 2010. But Mandel’s relative inexperience in politics doesn’t seem to concern McCain.
“I think he’s highly qualified, and therefore some of us who are maybe not at the beginning of our careers, shall we say, want to do everything we can to elect a new generation.
But there are some Republican voters who have concerns not as much about Mandel, but about McCain. For years – even when he was running for president in 2008 – he’s been blasted by some GOP pundits as being too moderate and not conservative enough, and too willing to deal with Democrats.
“I could pick a fight with him. He’s a kind of ‘crossing the aisle’ kind of guy.”
Ed Rothacker of Hilliard is a Vietnam vet who runs a charity at this VFW, providing music lessons to kids of active duty military families. While he confesses to some mixed feelings about McCain’s performance in Congress, he says Mandel securing McCain’s support is a big deal.
“That doesn’t mean it’s a rubber stamp – everybody’s still their own person. And you know, we’ll see what Mandel can do.”
Veteran Tim Savaglio drove up from Butler County to hear McCain speak.
“Sen. McCain has the respect of veterans – he always has. He rises above any other complaints people may have. He, his stature as a veteran rises above everything else.”
Ex-Marine Sarah Plummer is a yoga instructor and a motivational speaker, and is new to Ohio. She says she doesn’t know much about Mandel, but McCain’s reputation as a dealmaker and a moderate is a positive for her.
“For me, personally, I would say I’m not as hard-line conservative on the Republican side, so to me, this was a good partnership here and one I was excited to see.”
Mandel and McCain left the VFW event for a fundraiser in Columbus – and it wasn’t Mandel’s last fundraiser of the day. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – a rising GOP star who also is a favorite of Tea Party voters – was the headliner at a northeast Ohio fundraiser later. That didn’t go unnoticed by the campaign of incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. A spokesman wrote – quoting here – “Josh Mandel can ignore his job and throw as many VIP fundraisers as he wants”. The spokesman went on to blast Mandel for his policies on tax cuts and the economy and for recent stories about Mandel hiring friends with little experience into the treasurer’s office.