Portman, Strickland Joust Over Trade in Olympics Ads

Democrat calls GOP foe 'best senator China’s ever had'

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaks with reporters as he leaves Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Tuesday. He has a new television ad on trade that will air during the Olympics. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaks with reporters as he leaves Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Tuesday. He has a new television ad on trade that will air during the Olympics. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted August 5, 2016 at 11:30am

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman and his opponent, Democrat Ted Strickland , are pushing ads in time for the Olympics that underscore how trade — and its effects on the Buckeye State — will help decide their race.  

Portman has a four-point lead over the former Ohio governor, according to a RealClearPolitics average of several prominent polls. Strickland trails by at least five in two of those surveys, but is tied with Portman in another.  

With three months until Election Day , Strickland remains well within striking distance as Democrats try to take back control of the Senate.  

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Portman has an ad set to hit the airwaves during the Olympics that offers a contradictory message, accusing China of thievery.  

“Nobody can compete with the United States of America when we are given a fair shot,” Portman says in the spot. No country can out work us, out innovate us, or out perform us.  

“That’s why China and other countries have to cheat to steal Ohio’s manufacturing jobs,” he says. “And that’s why I’m fighting everyday to level the playing field for Ohio workers, standing up to my own party on trade, and fighting back against China when they threaten Ohio jobs.”  

In a web ad his campaign is again pushing, Strickland hammers Portman’s history on trade deals. It features Portman’s head on the body of a Chinese gymnast.  

 

The point of the ad is to portray Portman, a former U.S. trade representative, as more pro-China and than pro-America when it comes to global pacts.  

The ad begins with an announcer saying Portman is the next competitor and will try a “triple aerial flip-flop,” of which the speaker says: “Rob’s been practicing it his whole career, supporting one bad trade deal after another, sending hundreds of thousands of jobs to China.”  

The announcer charges Portman with changing his stance on international trade deals “in an election year.” He has said he would oppose President Barack Obama ’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership deal with Asian countries. (China is not a TPP country.)  

Portman voted to give Obama “trade promotion authority,” or the ability to negotiate the terms of such agreements with other countries. Notably, Portman waited to cast his “aye” vote until the measure had hit the necessary 60-vote mark during a procedural floor vote.  

The ad uses that vote for its finish, which shows the gymnast performing a maneuver that the announcer sums up this way: “Wow! What a flip-flop.”  

The spot then calls Portman “the best senator China’s ever had.”  

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Contact Bennett johnbennett@cqrollcall.com. Follow on Twitter @BennettJohnT.
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