CLEVELAND Candidates in Ohio’s U.S. senate campaign sparred Sunday over health care, approaches to climate change, student loan debt, immigration, tariffs and gun control in the first of three debates.
Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci repeatedly criticized incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown as being a Washington insider, citing Brown’s connections to Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer multiple times.
“The problem is Sherrod Brown loves Washington so much and Chuck Schumer that he continues to vote with those policies instead of trying to change those,” Renacci said in one remark, answering a question about student loan debt.
Renacci referred to Brown’s two-decade career as a congressman and senator, claiming he spends little time in Ohio.
Brown said he returns home to his Cleveland home each weekend. In turn, he criticized Renacci as unable to get things done in Washington even though Republicans control both the presidency and Congress.
“They can’t seem to get anything done on immigration or on wages or on trade or on healthcare or on climate change,” Brown said.
Late in the debate, both candidates were asked how the ugly Supreme Court nomination fight in the Senate over Judge Brett Kavanaugh could have been handled differently.
Brown said he decided against supporting Kavanaugh before the judge faced decades-old allegations of sexual assault.
As he has in ads during the campaign, Renacci then accused Brown of a different standard of conduct on domestic abuse, raising Brown’s divorce in the 1980s when his then-wife accused him of domestic violence.
“That situation is a standard of conduct that Sherrod Brown now has violated, and he should not be sitting in a U.S. Senate seat any longer,” Renacci said.
Brown’s ex-wife, Larke Recchie, and her second husband have held fundraisers for Brown and repeatedly asked Republicans to stop using the divorce in political campaigns.
Brown told Renacci his ex-wife has called these attacks despicable. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” Brown said to his opponent.
BY ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS for Charlotte Observer Logo
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