Ohio's two candidates for governor made attacks at one another during a debate in Toledo Thursday night, with both repeatedly challenging the other on issues of tax cuts and raising taxes.
Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland defended his work in the state's highest office and pointed to what he described as progress for the state.
He claimed credit for balancing two biennial budgets while cutting taxes, giving senior citizens cuts in property taxes, investing in new energy projects, freezing college tuition and investing in K-12 education.
"Ohio and America were hard hit by a national recession not of our own making. It was caused by mismanagement in Washington D.C. and misbehavior on Wall Street," the governor said.
Republican challenger John Kasich countered the governor by saying more needs to be done in the state.
"I believe we can make government more efficient, more effective. If we can take that 6-foot pile of codes and regulations that hamper and strangle our small businesses I know we can be more successful," Mr. Kasich said.
He said the state ranks 41st in the nation according to one ranking, and said Mr. Strickland was responsible for rising poverty, rising homeless, and rising taxes.
The debate was broadcast live on WTOL-TV, Channel 11, at The University of Toledo's Driscoll Alumni Center, and carried live on C-SPAN.
The one-hour event was sponsored by the Ohio News Organization, a consortium of the state's eight largest newspapers, including The Blade.
Before the debate, Democrats held a rally that attracted about 200 enthusiasts who gathered at Goddard Park next to the Driscoll Center on Bancroft Street.
Mr. Strickland told the rally that Mr. Kasich is "a radical extremist" who supported privatizing Social Security and outsourcing jobs to China, and now wants to abolish the state income tax.
He told supporters at the rally that the internal polls showed him leading Mr. Kasich.
"Mr. Kasich won this race in August. I'll win it in November," Mr. Strickland told the crowd. Other statewide Democratic leaders were hand, as well as local candidates and musical performers who entertained from a semi-tractor-trailer stage supplied by the Teamsters Union.
Several dozen Republicans collected to welcome Mr. Kasich at University Hills Boulevard. A handful stood on the corner of Cheltenham next to the park and waved signs. One read, "Strickland & Kaptur spells economic disaster."
Outside the debate site before the forum began, Kevin DeWine, the state Republican chairman, disputed Mr. Strickland's polling claims and joked that he'll be asking his pollster for a refund after the election.
"The race is right where we thought it'd be. Statewide races always get tight in October. We see this as a Kasich lead today and a Kasich victory in November," Mr. DeWine said.
He said Mr. Kasich's goal in the debate is to remind voters why they're disappointed in the policies of Mr. Strickland and President Barack Obama.