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Published: Thursday, 9/28/2006

Ad paints DeWine as Bush puppet

Sen. Mike DeWine's backers counter the Brown ad, above, by pointing to the times Mr. DeWine has bucked President Bush and by stressing his work with Democrats on dozens of bills. Sen. Mike DeWine's backers counter the Brown ad, above, by pointing to the times Mr. DeWine has bucked President Bush and by stressing his work with Democrats on dozens of bills.
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Each Thursday preceding the Nov. 7 election, Blade politics writer Jim Tankersley and WTVG's Bill Hormann team up to analyze candidates' campaign ads and check them for accuracy.

The ad: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, in support of U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D., Avon).

The target: U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R., Cedarville), whom Mr. Brown is challenging.

The claims: That Mr. DeWine teamed up with President Bush to grow the federal budget deficit and give tax breaks to oil companies and firms that move jobs overseas.

Fact-check:•Depending on your political preferences - or maybe just how much local news you've watched lately - this is either the catchiest or most annoying commercial to hit Ohio this year. It features a picture of Mr. DeWine and Mr. Bush in what looks like a gleeful schoolboy headlock while children sing, "The more we work together, the happier we'll be."

The ad paints Mr. DeWine as the puppet of an unpopular President on a bunch of unpopular issues. Democrats are trying similar attacks nationwide, as Mr. Bush's approval ratings hover around 40 percent.

Whether that's fair, in Mr. DeWine's case, is a question that will weigh heavily on this election.

Some facts are irrefutable. Mr. DeWine voted the President's preferred position 92 percent of the time this Congress, according to the online vote-tracker Hill Monitor. (Mr. Brown, by contrast, voted with the President about 36 percent of the time.) And Mr. DeWine has repeatedly called upon Mr. Bush for millions of dollars of fund-raising help this campaign.

The DeWine camp counters that the senator has bucked the President on several occasions, including his opposition to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and his membership in the so-called "Gang of 14" bipartisan compromise group on judicial nominee. Mr. DeWine also stresses his work with Democrats on dozens of bills. To borrow an old Bush phrase, he says he's a uniter.

Mr. Brown contends that Mr. DeWine voted with Mr. Bush on the important issues of this campaign, including the President's high-profile tax-cut packages and the vote to authorize force in Iraq. Mr. Brown opposed the cuts and the Iraq war. Mr. DeWine defends his votes.

It boils down to this: Mr. Brown and national Democrats say Mr. DeWine voted too often with Mr. Bush. Some conservatives say he didn't vote with Mr. Bush enough. Mr. DeWine says it really doesn't matter - that this race is about Mr. Brown and himself, not the man in the Oval Office.

- Jim Tankersley



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