CLEVELAND -- Republican Senate hopeful Josh Mandel spent part of Monday standing outside in the cold here introducing himself to early voters as they waited in line. Though many waited to cast votes for President Barack Obama, who won nearly 70 percent of the vote here in 2008, Mandel said he wasn't worried that their support for Obama meant that they planned to vote for his Democratic opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown.
"I've gotten a lot of people here telling me they're voting for Obama and me," Mandel, a 35-year-old Tea Party favorite, told The Huffington Post.
It's a curious statement, given that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have praised Brown throughout their campaign, including over the weekend, when both separately passed through Ohio. Biden was in Cleveland when he gave his shout-out to the Democratic senator.
Nonetheless, Mandel said he is hopeful that some Ohioans in Democratic strongholds may not vote a straight-ticket this time. He shrugged when asked if it made him uneasy about his race that Obama appears to be holding an edge in his state.
"The only poll we're really paying attention to now is tomorrow, Election Day," Mandel said, though he cited a Rasmussen poll over the weekend that put him and Brown in a 48 percent tie. "The reality is, it's going to come out to turnout. ... That's why I'm out here asking every person I can, respectfully, for their vote."
The latest Rasmussen telephone survey on their race, released Monday, shows Brown at 50 percent and Mandel at 48 percent.
Mandel was talking to an older black woman in line when HuffPost first walked up. The woman and Mandel were going back and forth about the partisan logjam in Washington and how things have to change. They appeared to be in agreement until the woman said she planned to vote for Obama because he stabilized the economy.
"This country would be down on the ground on its knees for real had he not made the moves he made," she said, her voice rising. "I've got to vote for that."
Mandel replied, "I appreciate you being out here today."