The Republican nominee for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, expanded his criticism of the auto bailout, telling a newspaper editorial board that anyone who supported it should be "ashamed."
The remarks came during a testy meeting last month between the 35-year-old Republican and journalists from the Youngstown Vindicator to decide the paper's endorsement. Captured on video, the panel -- which included editorial page editor Dennis Mangan, editorial writer Bertram de Souza and political columnist David Skolnick -- pressed Mandel on whether he supported the auto bailout. But Mandel continually attempted to shift the discussion and tie the auto bailout to the loss of pensions for workers at Delphi, a parts supplier for General Motors.
"Editorial boards and anyone who supported the process of stripping Delphi employees of their pensions should be ashamed of themselves," Mandel said.
The auto bailout has become a key political issue in Ohio for both the Senate and presidential contests. Brown has mentioned his support of the bailout on the campaign trail in recent months, while criticizing Mandel for not taking a position on the issue. Brown also recently introduced legislation to restore the pensions of Delphi salaried employees that were cut by GM.
During the editorial board meeting, Vindicator staffers kept pressing Mandel on the bailout issue while he focused on Delphi, leading to one exchange in which one member of the group accused Mandel of avoiding the question.
"Stop putting words in my mouth," Mandel said.
"Someone's got to put words in your mouth, all you do is talk in circles," one of the Vindicator staffers said.
The Vindicator endorsed Brown last week, citing the auto bailout exchange:
But he refused to answer the simple question: Had he been in the Senate would he have voted for or against the bailout? A yes or no would have sufficed. He would have been welcome to explain his answer at length — had he chosen to answer. We can only wonder if his tortured evasions of the question were as painful for him as they were for the editors.
Mandel's spokesman, Travis Considine, was unavailable for immediate comment.
Ohio Democrats, though, were quick to take issue with Mandel's performance.
"Josh Mandel's opposition to the auto rescue Sen. Sherrod Brown fought tirelessly to pass is a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans whose jobs it helped to protect, and his laughable attempt to avoid questions about it is yet another indication that Josh Mandel's reality is anything but," state Democratic Party spokesman Andrew Zucker said in a statement.
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