Gibbons, Mandel Continue Attack Ads in Ohio Weeks After Senate Debate Altercation

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It was March 18 when Ohio GOP Senate candidates Mike Gibbons and Josh Mandel engaged in a nose-to-nose altercation during a debate in suburban Columbus. The aftermath lingers almost three weeks later.

Mandel alleged that Gibbons sent American jobs to China. Gibbons claimed that Mandel, a former state representative and state treasurer who served two tours in Iraq as a U.S. Marine, has never worked in the private sector.

More words were said in the heated on-stage exchange that was broken up by the moderator, but Gibbons’ remark about Mandel’s lack of private sector experience spurred each campaign to release ads criticizing the other.

A week after the argument, Mandel’s campaign launched an ad with Sheila Nowacki, a Gold Star mother from Painesville, Ohio whose son Andy was killed in action in Iraq.

“Mike Gibbons has the nerve to say military service doesn’t count as real work,” Nowacki said in the spot.

“Marines like Josh Mandel, like my son Andy, risked their lives for our country. Their work is so much more important than Gibbons just making millions for himself. Josh Mandel came home from Iraq. My son didn’t. For God and country, please vote for Josh.”

Mandel has known the Nowacki family since 2005 when he was part of the honor guard that escorted Andy’s body from the airport and performed the 21-gun salute.

Another television spot, spearheaded by the pro-Mandel group USA Freedom Fund, called Gibbons “unfit to serve.”

Marine Sgt. Brian Sizer appears on screen and says that Gibbons’ statement is “disgraceful” and that “he doesn’t appreciate what the military does overseas on deployment because he doesn’t know, he hasn’t done it.”

“Mike Gibbons should be ashamed of himself,” Sizer also said in the ad. “He owes Josh Mandel and everyone else that served the United States military a direct apology.”

The ad with Nowacki followed an open letter written by 15 veterans who said they were “disgusted beyond belief” about Gibbons’ comments at the debate.

“Gibbons owes Josh and all veterans and those currently in the service an apology,” they wrote.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who served as former president Donald Trump’s national security adviser and endorsed Mandel, released a video demanding that Gibbons apologize.

By Jeff Louderback

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