While national Republicans have done their best to shore up Indiana Senate nominee Richard Mourdock after his statements on rape, conception and God’s will, many Republicans in tight Senate races have backed away from Mourdock’s comments, trying to keep the negative headlines that have followed Mourdock’s statements out of their races.
But the Republican nominee for Senate in Ohio, Josh Mandel, has taken a very different approach. He’s given Mourdock a big ol’ bear hug. Ahead of Thursday’s debate between Mandel and incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown, Democrats say they plan to make Mourdock a big topic on stage.
“I would bet it will,” Brown spokesperson Sadie Weiner told TPM when asked whether Mandel’s handling of Mourdock will come up in the debate.
Mandel is unafraid to embrace Mourdock, despite the controversy surrounding him.
“Listen, I’ve gotten to know Richard [Mourdock] because we’re both state treasurers and — we’re treasures in states next door to each other,” Mandel told radio host Laura Ingraham Thursday. “He’s a gentleman. He’s a class act. He’s a thoughtful guy. He’ll make a great United States Senator.”
Here’s audio of the quote, sent to TPM by Ohio Democrats.
The contrast between Mandel’s messaging and his fellow Republican Senate nominee is stark. While Republican candidates like Linda McMahon in Connecticut and Scott Brown in Massachusetts were quick to condemn Mourdock’s comments on the debate stage Tuesday — probably a wise move in races where every half-point in the polling counts — Mandel initially declined to weigh in on Mourdock’s comments, even after they were read to him. Video from the Ohio Capital Blog:
The Brown campaign is taking full advantage of Mandel’s reaction to Mourdock and his refusal to denounce the remarks. After Mandel declined to comment Wednesday, Brown spokesman Justin Barasky slammed him in a press release: “Josh Mandel’s stunning refusal to denounce Richard Mourdock’s statement that pregnancy from rape is something God ‘intended’ even after the statement was read out loud to him is outrageous, offensive, and demands an immediate apology.”
Now, with the battle moving back to the debate stage again amidst Mandel’s support for Mourdock, the Ohio race may be the one where Mourdock hurts Republicans the most behind Indiana.