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Published: Thursday, 10/7/2010

Democrats in Ohio rip Kasich ad

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The grim blue-collar worker tells the camera that Gov. Ted Strickland "destroyed Ohio jobs" and now "wants us to keep him in his job."

"Are you kidding me?" the rugged-looking man says, his white hard hat tucked under his arm as he stalks out of the deserted factory building.

A compelling performance.

And a professional one.

The John Kasich campaign acknowledged Wednesday the man in its latest campaign commercial isn't a laid-off Ohio factory worker, but an actor hired by the campaign's media consultant.

The Ohio Democratic Party identified the actor as Chip Redden after getting a tip, and said he is represented by the Heyman Talent Agency of Cincinnati. A person answering the phone at Heyman's offices Wednesday declined comment.

Mr. Redden is 41 and lives in Mt. Sterling, Ohio, according to his myspace.com page.

Seth Bringman, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, said the use of an actor to play the part of a struggling Ohio worker is

"disingenuous."

"They certainly meant to portray a working person and were disingenuous in doing so," Mr. Bringman said.

Mr. Kasich defended the commercial.

"No, I don't think it's deceptive. I think the ad's fine," Mr. Kasich said Wednesday while at a meeting with The Blade's editorial board. "How many actors do they put on their ads?"

None, according to Democratic Governor Strickland's re-election campaign.

"Ted doesn't need to pay people to say they support him," Press Secretary Lis Smith said in an e-mail responding to a question from The Blade. "Whether it's Ohio business leaders or Ohio workers whose jobs were outsourced by the trade deals Congressman Kasich supported, we've always used real Ohioans to talk about the stark choices Ohio faces in this election."

Mr. Kasich, a Republican, said the important thing is the information communicated by the ad - the disappearance of about 397,000 jobs from Ohio since Mr. Strickland has been governor.

"The message is we've lost nearly 400,000 jobs in the state. The message isn't who this guy is," Mr. Kasich said. "That's whining."

Kasich campaign press secretary Rob Nichols said the ad has run its course and is "cycling away."

The purported blue-collar worker tells the camera that Governor Strickland "destroyed Ohio jobs," "busted the budget," and "raised our taxes to help pay for his mistakes."

John Saunders, a former president of United Steelworkers Local 1238, of Martins Ferry, Ohio, said at a news conference in Columbus to condemn the ad that the man appeared to be a steelworker, even though no such description is given in the video.

"The perception is clear it's a steelworker. The intent was to damage Strickland's standing inside the labor movement," said Mr. Saunders, who said he's been a steelworker for 40 years.

He said Ohio needs people to come up with solutions to its many problems, not to try to "trick" voters.

He said at first he guessed the Kasich campaign had found a supporter within the steelworker union.

"Our members aren't 100 percent supporting Ted Strickland. He should have got one of them," Mr. Saunders said.

In a prepared statement, he said he doubted any worker "whose job has been threatened by the unfair trade deals Kasich supported in Congress would be willing to appear in his commercials."

Ms. Smith said, "It's very telling that Congressman Kasich couldn't find one steelworker to shoot an ad for him, though it's not surprising in light of his longtime support for bad trade deals like NAFTA and special trade status for China, which have hurt the steel industry."

The Strickland campaign has blamed the North American Free Trade Agreement and unrestricted trade with China for the loss of manufacturing jobs from the state and as a factor in the state's economic struggles since Mr. Strickland took office.

According to the Ohio Democratic Party, Mr. Redden's past acting gigs include the independent films Nobody Nothing Nobody, and Roaming, commercials for SafeAuto and the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, and appearing as an extra on Lost.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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