Senatorial candidates spar

A vocal, and at times noisy, crowd booed and cheered at Toledo’s Stranahan Theater last night as Sen. Mike DeWine (R) and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) fired attack after attack on each other’s voting records during their last scheduled debate in their race for U.S. Senate.

Toledo was the fourth and final city in which the two politicians would debate before the election Nov. 7.

DeWine, who currently holds the Senate seat, said during his opening statement that his opponent could not be trusted to cooperate with fellow senators on behalf of Ohioans.

“[Brown’s] record is one of extreme partisanship,” DeWine said. “His record shows he cannot work with the other party and cannot get things done.”

DeWine described Brown as too liberal and “on the fringe of his own party.” He also criticized Brown for being an “inefficient member of Congress.”

“In fourteen years, Sherrod Brown has only passed four bills,” DeWine said. “Three of them had to do with Taiwan and one was about renaming a federal building. He cannot run from his abysmal record.”

But Brown said DeWine was unwilling to stray from voting with his party and the president, saying the senator voted 96 percent of the time in line with President Bush on issues like the Iraq war – even when both were wrong.

“[DeWine] did not ask the tough questions even after 12 years on the Intelligence Committee,” Brown said. “He voted for the war in Iraq knowing troops were not armored.”

Brown also said DeWine lacked the backbone to look out for the interests of the middle-class citizen.

“He doesn’t stand up to drug companies. He doesn’t stand up to HMOs. He doesn’t stand up to being told to go personal and negative to continue receiving campaign funding,” Brown said, referring to a DeWine campaign ad that was pulled from television for concerns about its accuracy. “Mike DeWine has no spine.”

But DeWine said during his time in the Senate he “has been there and will continue to be” in finding an eventual exit strategy for Iraq.

“We won’t stay in Iraq forever, but right now this is for our own national interests,” he said. “[Brown] doesn’t understand that there is a war on terrorism.”

But Brown said DeWine had no new ideas to offer on Iraq – or any other issue.

“I see nothing different about continuing to ‘stay the course,'” he said. “He doesn’t want to have a breadth of difference, a hair of difference, between his opinions and Bush’s.”

Both Democrats and Republicans in the audience voiced disappointment with the debate.

“I thought it was very repetitive and counterproductive,” Brian Kutzley, co-chair of the College Republicans, said. “I would say with the small amount of time spent on policies, DeWine had the edge, but I was disappointed the debate was this personal and this low.”

Ron Collier, member of the College Democrats, said the candidates wasted far too much time on personal attacks.

“They both presented good points, but they were mostly just talking about each other,” he said. “I wish they would’ve talked more about what they actually plan to do in office.”