Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is being increasingly seen as a likely Republican candidate for vice president, has chosen Ohio hopeful Josh Mandel as his first U.S. Senate endorsement for November’s elections.
Rubio traveled to the Buckeye State on Monday to start a two-day swing through Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus with Mandel, who is challenging veteran Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown.
“We will visit with grass-roots volunteers, blue-collar laborers, small-business owners, senior citizens and college students as we project our message of restoring fiscal sanity to Washington and economic freedom to America,” Mandel said.
It’s the second key Senate endorsement for the baby-faced state treasurer, who has had a meteoric rise since he was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2006. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, known for his “kingmaking” role in the 2010 elections, also endorsed Mandel.
Last week, in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, Mandel said he is undeterred by polls that put Brown well ahead, something he attributed to the sitting senator’s name recognition, which he said is “in the mid-90s.”
“Everyone knows who he is but still less than half the people want to rehire him,” he said. “Our main obstacle, is building up our name recognition, getting known throughout the state of Ohio.”
Mandel, 34, makes much of his youth – and the fact that he looks even younger than he is. In an interview with Newsmax in January he joked that one of his ambitions was to be shaving by the time he turns 35.
He hopes that will contrast with Brown, 59, who has held elected office almost continually – first as a state representative, then, successively, secretary of state for Ohio, U.S. representative, and one term as a senator – since 1975, two years before Mandel was born.
Mandel, a Marine Corps veteran, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, said he is focusing his campaign against Brown on jobs.
“While I have very strong feelings and convictions on a variety of other issues, my words at people's doorsteps, farms and factories will center around how we can empower the private sector to create jobs through free enterprise, entrepreneurial passion and the fighting American spirit,” he said.
“This is where my discipline from the Marine Corps will be crucial, because Sherrod Brown will try to change the subject to anything but the economy, because his past decade in Washington has resulted in the loss of over 500,000 Ohio jobs and 3,500 Ohio factories.
“He will also attempt to hide from voters that since he went to Washington, the United States’ trade deficit with China has increased over $270 billion and that China currently owns $1 trillion of Unites States debt – both unfortunate realities that are compromising the economic future of Ohio families and the national security of America.”
Mandel easily won a six-way primary last week for the right to take on Brown. Rubio’s official endorsement is expected to come on Monday night at a rally at Wright State University.
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