CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio -With Republican Josh Mandel’s side in Ohio's U.S. Senate race outspending him by about $11 million, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) brought in "West Wing" actor and Democratic activist Bradley Whitford on Monday to help him raise money.
Mr. Whitford and Ted Kennedy, Jr., were the celebrities at a $1,000-per-ticket debate-watching party for his campaign at the private residence of Faye and Michael Bass in Chagrin Falls.
Mr. Kennedy, son of the late U.S. senator from Massachusetts, said of Senator Brown, "my family has known this man as an outstanding public servant, somebody who's committed his entire life to helping other people." He said Mr. Brown was "my father's most valuable member" on the Senate health committee that the elder Mr. Kennedy chaired. Mr. Brown has moved from the health committee to the appropriations committee.
"If my father were alive, he'd be right here where I am," Mr. Kennedy said.
Mr. Whitford, who was introduced by Mr. Kennedy as his fellow Wesleyan University alumnus in Connecticut, blasted the modern Republican Party.
"These guys make Nixon look like Abbie Hoffman," he joked, referring to the 1960's-era Yippie activisit, to the crowd of about 40 people moments before the presidential debate got under way. "You have the perverse compliment of Karl Rove raining his garbage on you."
Mr. Rove, a Republican strategist, is behind Crossroads GPS, one of the outside political groups that is spending heavily to deny Mr. Brown a second term.
In welcoming his supporters to the Bass residence to watch the third and final presidential debate between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Mr. Brown said that President Obama's polling shows him with a "stable" lead of 3 to 5 percentage points, and "this debate will solidify that."
Halfway through the debate, Mr. Whitford said, "I think Obama's cleaning his clock.
"The President looks really crisp, really clear. I think Romney has gotten away with a lot of reckless foreign policy pronouncements tailored to whatever crowd he's speaking to," Mr. Whitford said.
Mr. Whitford, 53, originally of Madison, Wis., played the part of Josh Lyman, deputy White House chief of staff, on the popular series "The West Wing," which aired on NBC from September, 1999, to May 14, 2006.
The original invitation advertised Martin Sheen, who played the part of President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, as the guest and used him to spur contributors by promising "airfare, hotel, and a plum seat at the party" for one lucky contributor.
Mr. Sheen's letter raising money for the Brown campaign and sent to Brown contributors started out, "No way I’m missing this." However, he was not able to attend due to a work conflict, spokesman Justin Barasky said. Mr. Sheen, a native of Dayton, Ohio, spent two days in events for the Brown campaign in Ohio in May.
Mr. Brown also, not surprisingly, found that his fellow Democrat was winning the debate.
"He's making clear the difference on balancing the budget, on job creation, he clearly is the commander-in-chief. I think Romney pales in comparison when you look at leadership qualities," Mr. Brown said.
Treasurer Mandel did not respond to a request for a phone interview.
Campaign finance reports show Senator Brown outspending Mr. Mandel in traditional campaign accounts by $14 million to $10 million, with both campaigns still sitting on millions of dollars. However, supporters of Ohio state Treasurer Mandel more than make up the disadvantage with outside spending, bringing total Mandel spending to about $36 million and total Brown spending to about $25 million.
Polls show Senator Brown with a lead over Mr. Mandel. A new poll Monday by Boston-based Suffolk University said that Mr. Brown was leading Mr. Mandel 46 percent to 39 percent.