The Republican aiming to unseat Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) repeatedly dodged a newspaper editorial board’s questions regarding the federal bailout of the auto industry, according to video released Tuesday.
The Youngstown Vindicator reported that state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) got into the contentious exchange when the board asked him whether he supported the $82 billion bailout during a meeting last month.
“Each time, Mandel either said it was wrong for the bailout to not help Delphi salaried retirees — who lost their health and life insurance and had their pensions cut by 30 percent to 70 percent,” columnist David Skolnick wrote. “Or dismissed various scenarios offered by the editorial board’s members as not being legitimate questions.”
According to The Vindicator, Mandel’s remarks about Delphi refers to a group of 21,000 employees who lost health and life insurance and suffered pension cuts as part of the bailout package. However, retirees belonging to the United Auto Workers were covered by General Motors, one of the companies that benefited from the bailout.
“Editorial boards — anyone — who supported the process that stripped Delphi employees of their pensions, I believe, should be ashamed of themselves,” Mandel told the Vindicator board.
When a board member asked Mandel if the Delphi issue was enough of a deal-breaker for him to let GM and Chrysler “go down the tubes,” he refused to answer.
“The premise of your question is absolutely false,” Mandel said. “It’s tough to answer a question with a false premise.”
Brown voted for the bailout and has defended his decision since then. The Huffington Post reported that Mandel called Brown “un-American” for doing so in an August meeting with editors at The Columbus Dispatch, which earned him a rebuke from Brown.
“While Josh was running for treasurer in 2009 and 2010, I guess he missed how this auto industry was going to implode,” Brown said.
As the grandson of a UAW worker, Mandel said, he would do everything as a senator to protect auto industry jobs — with one caveat.
“It needs to done under the umbrella of the free enterprise system, without the federal government picking winners and losers,” Mandel said. “And it needs to be done in a way without stripping these hardworking workers of their pensions.”
On Monday, The Vindicator endorsed Brown in the race, chiding Mandel for spending the majority of his tenure as treasurer raising money for his senatorial campaign.
“He has the makings of a respectable record, and we’d say he should be given the opportunity to prove what he can do by serving the four-year term to which Ohio voters elected him,” the paper said in an editorial. “It’s just possible that after a full term, Mandel’s absenteeism and the cronyism he practiced in filling some of the highest jobs in the treasurer’s office will catch up with him. Or perhaps he is a wunderkind. There’s only one way to find out.”
Watch video of Mandel’s interview with the Vindicator editorial board, posted on YouTube Monday by the Brown campaign, below.