Presidential contest is issue in Senate race

Published 10:58 am Thursday, June 23, 2016

Strickland calls on Portman to retract endorsement of Trump

COLUMBUS — The presumptive nominees for the presidential race were a topic of discussion in the race for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat this week.

Former Gov. Ted Strickland, the Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, called on his opponent to retract his endorsement of real estate tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump’s offenses against our American values are almost too numerous to list: He has disparaged women, mocked individuals with disabilities, tried to establish a religious test for those entering our country, called for racial profiling, insinuated that the President colluded with terrorists, opposed higher wages for working people and insulted our veterans — and each day seems to bring a fresh example of why he is not qualified to lead our nation,” Strickland said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Strickland said Portman was prioritizing his own political interests over the interests of Ohio’s voters.

“To Senator Portman, I would say this: how much more of Trump’s division and hate are you willing to accept before you display the kind of leadership Ohioans expect and deserve?” Strickland asked.

Portman discussed his endorsement of Trump during a conference call with supporters on Tuesday.

He said he often disagrees with Trump, “nearly every week,” specifically citing Trump’s proposal to ban immigration from Muslim countries, something Portman said was “impractical” and unenforceable.

“How would they do that? Would they self-report?” he asked.

While Portman said he would continue to speak out on where he disagrees with Trump, he said he still prefers his party’s presumptive nominee to Hillary Clinton, who he said was offering “the same polices” on the economy, consisting of “tax and spend.”

Portman also cited recent polling that he said showed voters are no more likely to take an endorsement of Trump into consideration for the Senate race than they are one of Hillary Clinton. Both presidential candidates have high disapproval ratings with Ohio voters.

“It’s within the margin of error,” Portman said of the difference in amount of voters who said Trump and Clinton endorsements would impact their casting of ballots for Senate.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who dropped out of the presidential race in May, has refused to endorse Trump in the presidential race. Strickland commended Kasich, citing his “moral integrity” in withholding support.

The Republican National Convention is set for July in Cleveland. Kasich has said he will still attend, but has not yet determined what role he will play.

One Republican, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, of Illinois, also in a battleground Senate race, has retracted his endorsement of Trump, stating the New York businessman did not have the temperament to lead.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday showed the Senate race still deadlocked, with Portman and Strickland attracting 42 percent each. The survey of 971 voters was conducted from June 8-19 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.