Top Ohio officials address McCain’s smear campaign at Columbus rally

Heather Vitale

Gov. Strickland, Sen. Brown slam GOP advertising

“Stop being squirrelly and start being straight” was the message to the Republican Party from Mayor Michael Coleman at the press conference held in Columbus yesterday morning.

Gov. Ted Strickland and Sen. Sherrod Brown also spoke at the Ohio Statehouse about John McCain’s negative campaigning and the distorted truths he presents to the voters.

Strickland said he believes negative campaigning is in the eye of the beholder. There is a difference between having a negative effect on candidates and having a campaign that’s designed in a distorted way to turn people against a candidate, he said. There is no place for negative campaigns.

“I am disappointed in John McCain,” Strickland said. “This is surprising and troubling to me. This is the time when people are really hurting, losing jobs and losing homes. We’re talking about campaigning for the president of the United States, and McCain is talking about irrelevant matters. He is tying his winning or losing to these matters.”

Strickland said these attacks are despicable. All McCain is offering is negative attacks to the voters. Republicans tried to instill fear in Ohio voters, he said.

The robocalls – automated telemarketing phone calls – the Republican party released on behalf of John McCain have stated that Obama has ties to known terrorists. They also said the Democrats will institute an extreme leftist agenda if elected, Strickland said.

There are many issues to talk about, Coleman said, but McCain resorted to personal, vicious attacks. Coleman said McCain’s campaign admitted the economy is a losing issue.

“Let’s get back to straight talk,” Coleman said. “Talk about getting our nation back on track. The voters of our state deserve a lot better. Time to clean up your act.”

In 2008, we expect to see more people vote than we have in the past few decades, Brown said. There is more registration in people of all ages.

“Republicans want fewer people to vote,” he said. “We as elected officials should encourage people to participate in the process.”

Republicans are using systematic frivolous lawsuits, Brown said about the voter fraud issue.

“Colin Powell decried these tactics,” he said. “He was embarrassed for his own political party.”

“It makes me sad,” Brown adds. “Comparison campaigning educates people. This kind is demeaning to the electorate. I don’t think the race is going to be that close in the end.”

Contact public affairs reporter Heather Vitale at [email protected].