In Ohio, GOP Zeroes In on Rising Debt

In Ohio, GOP Zeroes In on Rising Debt

By Erin McPike - October 23, 2012

CINCINNATI -- Republicans trying to undo the Democrats' stubborn lead in the polls here are stressing the one issue on which voters still give them higher marks: the national debt.

A barrage of direct mail from the GOP hit Buckeye mailboxes on Monday, and the overwhelming theme of each was that the nation’s fiscal liabilities have hit eye-bulging levels under Democratic leadership in Washington. But the mailings feature such Democrats as President Obama and Sen. Sherrod Brown at least as prominently as they do the major Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Senate nominee Josh Mandel.

One Ohio GOP brochure promoting Romney features an official-looking photo of the president leaving the White House and notes, “Obama says that his policies are working.” It quotes the president saying in July, “Just like we’ve tried their plan, we tried our plan -- and it worked. That’s the difference.” Then, in much smaller type, the mailer complains about trillion-dollar deficits, additions to the national debt, increased borrowing and the gutting of welfare reform. It ends, “But for Ohioans, our jobs, our income, our future are all slipping away.”

State Republican strategists have criticized the Romney campaign for this message considering that the local economy has recovered at a faster rate than the national economy has. Ohio’s unemployment rate is 7 percent compared to 7.8 percent nationwide.

Romney and Paul Ryan are featured twice in the mailing, but less prominently than the president. The first objective for the Republican ticket, the piece notes, is to “cut the deficit.” The second and third goals listed are to “cap spending” and “put spending controls in place.”

Another GOP mailer is focused on health care and features two large photos of Obama juxtaposed with two smaller ones of Romney. “Obamacare is making it harder for our economy to recover,” it reads.

And a Republican piece encouraging Ohioans to vote early features neither candidate. It says simply, “Deny the Democrats four more years of wasteful spending. . . . The Democrats promised to cut the deficit. They failed.”

In the Senate race, a 10-panel piece paid for by Mandel and the state GOP features five pictures of the incumbent -- four of them very large -- and just two small photos of the challenger. Also, an image shows a little white house sitting on bundles of $10,000 each, and the message reads: “After 38 years of career politician Sherrod Brown . . . it’s time for a change.” The mailer is mostly about the senator and details from his record (including voting six times for congressional pay raises) on one side, and the growing national debt during his tenure on the other.

On one panel it notes, “Federal spending has more than doubled since Sherrod Brown came to Washington in 1993.” On the next: “The national debt has nearly quadrupled to over $16 trillion on Sherrod Brown’s watch.”

Mandel is featured in just one of the panels, the one reserved for the recipient’s address. A single line promoting him reads: “35-year old Marine Corps Veteran and State Treasurer Josh Mandel has earned the highest credit rating on the state investments he manages.” 

The RCP Average shows Mandel trailing Brown by 6.2 percentage points and Obama leading Romney by 1.9 points.

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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