Q&A with Sherrod Brown


Question: Let's start simply. Why are you running?

Answer: I look around at what's happened to our state, and the last 10 years of failed leadership from Bob Taft, George Bush, Mike DeWine. Too many Ohioans are losing their pensions. Too many Ohioans can't afford to send their kids to college. Too many Ohioans are suffering from high prescription-drug and home-heating costs. This state and this country need a new direction.

Q: Is it fair to group Mike DeWine with Bob Taft and George Bush?

A: When George Bush said I want to attack Iraq, Mike DeWine said I'm with you, Mr. President. When George Bush wants to privatize social security, Mike DeWine says I've already got a bill to do it, Mr. President. When George Bush wanted the Medicare bill, Mike DeWine was with him. When George Bush pushed his energy - his giveaway to the oil companies' energy bill - through Congress, Mike DeWine was right there On every major issue, Bob Taft and Mike DeWine and George Bush have worked together, absolutely.

I don't in any way imply that Mike DeWine is as corrupt as the Republicans leading our state. But Mike DeWine has been, in the last 15 years, one of the two or three most prominent Republican leaders in our state. And when I see our state going in this direction, the leadership of this state takes responsibility for that.

Q: What issues will decide this Senate race?

A: Well, we've lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs [in] Mike DeWine's term of office. Yet neither state government nor federal government has any manufacturing policy. We have no policy to bring down energy costs for small manufacturers, to give tax incentives for domestic manufacturing. Our trade policy is a big part of the reason that we're hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs as companies out-source.

That's going to be one of the biggest issues of this campaign - that we continue to lose jobs, good-paying, industrial manufacturing jobs.

Q: What else?

A: We have seen our House and Senate turned over to special interests. The drug industry, the insurance industry, the oil companies. On issue after issue after issue, this House and Senate have turned over our government to the corporate interests in the country.

Q: But aren't many of your biggest contributors labor unions? What's to stop you from turning over control of the country to them?

A: My contributors want a higher minimum wage. My contributors want worker safety in the workplace. My contributors want stronger environmental laws. Mike DeWine and George Bush's contributors want higher energy prices, higher drug prices, more privatization of social security and Medicare. That's what those companies want.

Q: Let's talk about Iraq. Should the United States still have troops there?

A: Yeah, we can't pull out tomorrow. I voted against the Iraq war initially, I voted against the $87 billion at the beginning of the war to fund the war, I spoke out against the war consistently. I have a resolution right now that requires the President to submit to the American public and to Congress an exit strategy at the end of this year, and next year beginning the troop withdrawal - a safe, orderly troop withdrawal - by October, 2006.

Q: What is the state of American national security right now?

A: Well, I think the President has lost his focus. He lost his focus on Osama bin Laden and was instead deciding to take out Saddam Hussein. He's lost his focus (by) spending a billion and a half dollars a week in Iraq instead of providing the sort of homeland security at airports and train stations and water systems and public utility systems, including power plants.

Q: John Kerry made almost that exact same argument throughout the presidential campaign last year. It didn't work in Ohio. Why do you think it will work for you?

A: People understand now 1) how the President didn't tell the truth about Iraq and 2) how badly the war has been conducted, and 3) that fighting terrorism is mostly about homeland security and fighting al-Qaeda around the world. Too many American kids have died. Dick Cheney has lied too many times to the American people.

Q: You recently told an interviewer, "On economic issues I'm clearly not just in the mainstream, but in the great majority." Majorities in Congress - beginning under a Democratic president - have supported free trade agreements such as NAFTA. In an increasingly global economy, are you really in the mainstream on trade?

A: Oh, I'm way in the mainstream on trade. One thing, you're going back a dozen years. Let's look at a more accurate portrayal. Let's look at CAFTA. Ninety-three percent of the Democrats voted against CAFTA. And 30 percent of Republicans wouldn't have voted for it if they could have voted their conscience or would have voted their conscience. I am fully convinced that the American public believes their government is selling out American workers on NAFTA, on CAFTA, on trade with China.

Q: On some social issues, particularly gay marriage, you appear to disagree with a majority of Ohioans.

A: Mike DeWine and I both opposed Issue 1 last year (the state gay marriage ban); so I think that's kind of a wash. The issues in this campaign are about family security. And family security means better wages, better health care, more opportunity to send your kids to college.

Contact Jim Tankersley at: jtankersley@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.