CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Both candidates for Ohio's Democratic Senate nomination shared a stage in Cincinnati last night. While they refrained from attacking each other, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher was "Lee the Knife" as he tried to bloody Republican Rob Portman. He said Portman put the U.S. economy in peril as budget director and trade rep under former President George W. Bush. Fisher said Americans and Ohioans are suffering as a result, and blamed GOP trade policies for shipping thousands of Ohio's manufacturing jobs overseas.
"We need to reign in the reckless policies of the Bush-Portman Administration that brought us to the edge of this economic cliff," Fisher said. Then he switched metaphors. "Rob Portman was one of the chief architects who dug the deepest economic ditch . . . Guess who was holding the shovel and digging the ditch? It was Rob Portman."
Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner shared the stage at a pre-primary session sponsored by the Hamilton County Democratic Party, the Hamilton County Democratic Women's Caucus, and the Hamilton County Democratic Forum. They did not bash each other. Several written questions from the audience focused on Massachusetts, which 24 hours earlier elected a Republican senator to a seat in Democratic hands since 1952. Brunner said Ohio Democrats should not be crushed. She said Scott Brown, the GOP victor, was able to attract independent voters. Brunner said she has a history of polling well with independents, and called them to key to victory in November. About Brown: "He was enthusiastic, he was real, he spoke to people's issues." She said she intends to do the same, running full bore. She said she would be thinking about her campaign even while she sleeps. "Even if I'm not out there, my brain is working." The implication: She would never be viewed as coasting or running a lackadaisical campaign.
Fisher focused on jobs and the economy, and repeatedly portrayed Portman as a key player in the Bush administration: "We can chose the past and go back to the same policies and some people who got us into this economic mess." Fisher said the lesson Democrats should take home from Massachusetts is to relentlessly focus on jobs: "The number one issue in America today is the number one issue in Massachusetts and Ohio -- jobs and economic security. I intend to focus like a Laser . . . my focus in this race is on Rob Portman."