Religion dominates candidate forum

Aman Ali

Ken Blackwell and Mike DeWine attended an open forum at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. The primary issues discussed included abortion, gay marriage, and taxes. DAVID RANUCCI | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Republican candidates Ken Blackwell and Mike DeWine took a strong religious tone in their campaigning yesterday, speaking at a candidate forum at Franciscan University in Steubenville.

Both candidates reiterated their stances against abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research, much to the applause of about 200 people who attended the event.

“I think at this time, Ohio needs a leader that is a standup guy,” said Blackwell, candidate for Ohio governor. “I’m a standup guy that has fought for the fact that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, and I’m a standup guy for advancing the culture of life. The choice for governor in November is going to be clear.”

The event was organized by the Ohio Christian Alliance and held at a Catholic private college in Southeast Ohio.

“The Ohio Christian Alliance is non-partisan,” said Steve DeLong, the group’s director. “We don’t support or endorse any candidates. We are focusing on voter education to people of faith before this election.”

Both Blackwell and DeWine’s Democratic opponents, Rep. Ted Strickland and Rep. Sherrod Brown respectively, were invited to the event but did not attend.

The forum was moderated by Bert Turner, director of Christian teleservices at InfoCision Management Corporation, a marketing consulting firm in Akron. Turner asked the candidates a range of questions on topics including taxes, education, abortion and marriage.

During his responses, Blackwell explained how his religious and political views intertwine.

“Every morning, I rise and ask myself a fundamental question,” Blackwell said. “If your life was on trial this morning, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian? I want to continue answering that question with a resounding ‘yes.’ That’s how faith forms how I approach my policy.”

DeWine, seeking re-election for his U.S. Senate seat, reiterated his congressional voting record to back up his platform.

“I have a 100 percent pro-life record,” DeWine said. “I worked to help pass the partial-birth abortion ban. I was proud to be one of the seven people President Bush asked to stand with him when he signed it into law.”

The U.S. Supreme Court since then has overturned the federal ban on partial-birth abortions.

Other Ohio candidates that were a part of the forum included Chuck Blasdel, a Republican running for the U.S. 6th congressional district in southeast Ohio, Richard Cordray, a Democrat running for state treasurer, and Nancy O’Brien, a Republican running against Cordray.

Although the position she’s running for wouldn’t typically address the issue, O’Brien took a strong conservative stance on issues pertaining to abortion and stem cell research.

“Much like slavery was the most important civil rights issue during that time, I believe that the culture of life issue is the civil rights issue of our time,” O’Brien said.

Blackwell’s next major stop will be in Cleveland on Wednesday, scheduled in a televised gubernatorial debate against Ted Strickland.

Contact public affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected].