Democrats struck back at Mike DeWine on national security yesterday, and Republicans said they couldn't be happier.
Mr. DeWine, an incumbent Republican U.S. senator from Cedarville, began broadcasting ads last week that attack his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Avon, on security issues, including some mid-1990s votes to reduce intelligence funding.
The Ohio Democratic Party responded on Mr. Brown's behalf with an ad campaign party leaders said matched Mr. DeWine's nearly $500,000 effort "dollar for dollar."
The spot defends Mr. Brown's security record and, in a nod to Mr. Brown's focus on international trade, criticizes Mr. DeWine for supporting agreements with China its says led to lost jobs and "sensitive military technology."
It calls Mr. DeWine's use of images from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in his ad "sad" and a "smear."
In a press release, Ohio Democratic chairman Chris Redfern said Mr. DeWine was "exploiting the hallowed ground of 9/11 for his partisan purposes" - even though the Democratic ad says Mr. DeWine was "on the intelligence committee that failed us before 9/11."
As often is the case in political advertising, both sides accused the other of distorting voting records. Democrats contended the Brown votes that Mr. DeWine cited do not show neglect for national security, but a healthy skepticism of intelligence spending, which they said Mr. DeWine had not shown on the Senate intelligence committee.
"We know now that there were serious problems in the intelligence community before 2000," Mr. Redfern said. A DeWine spokesman said Democrats were "misrepresenting Sen. DeWine's views to distract voters."
The Ohio Republican Party issued a point-by-point critique of the Democratic ad, contrasting Mr. DeWine and Mr. Brown's defense funding votes and questioning Democrats' claims that Mr. Brown "led the fight against bioterrorism" because he did not co-sponsor the bill in question.
Republicans said the debate favored their candidate.
"Sherrod Brown is leading with his chin," said John McClelland, the state party spokesman. "If he and the Democrats want to debate national security, we'll take him up on it. Bring it on."
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