National Politics Play Out in Ohio Senate Race

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Republican Sen. Michael DeWine (left) faces a tough re-election bid against Sherrod Brown i

Republican Sen. Michael DeWine (left) faces a tough re-election bid against Sherrod Brown, a Democratic congressman. The two candidates appeared on Meet the Press on Oct. 1. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Wong/Getty Images
Republican Sen. Michael DeWine (left) faces a tough re-election bid against Sherrod Brown

Republican Sen. Michael DeWine (left) faces a tough re-election bid against Sherrod Brown, a Democratic congressman. The two candidates appeared on Meet the Press on Oct. 1.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

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Republican Michael DeWine and Democratic Congressman Sherrod Brown are locked in a high-profile, neck-and-neck race for the U.S. Senate. It's one of the elections that will help determine which party holds the majority of the chamber come January.

George Bush narrowly won Ohio two years ago, and the state's 20 electoral votes won him re-election to the presidency.

Since then, Ohio's Republican Party has been mired in corruption scandals, while support for the president and for the war in Iraq has plummeted. Even voters who two years ago were staunch supporters of both are rethinking their positions.

At best, DeWine, a two-term incumbent, is running even with Brown in the polls, and in several surveys, he is trailing Brown.

In his campaign, DeWine trumpets his support for homeland security — while criticizing Brown's record. He is emphasizing issues of defense and intelligence.

On Iraq, a key issue for Ohio voters, DeWine differentiates himself from Brown, who he says wants to set an "artificial timetable" for withdrawing U.S. troops. Instead, DeWine says American forces should leave only when Iraqi troops are able to take over policing their own country.

DeWine, a conservative Republican, also casts himself as the pragmatist who crosses party lines — and his opponent as the ultra-liberal. And that's another crucial difference to him.

"I don't think people in Ohio are so fixated on party," he says. "I think for voters, this race is between Mike DeWine and Sherrod Brown."

Seven-term Democratic Congressman Sherrod Brown says he, too, works together with members of the other party.

But he is also running hard on a vote he took that was distinctly in the minority: Brown voted against going to war in Iraq, and Iraq is a central theme of his campaign.

He blames DeWine, and other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, for not demanding more answers and more accountability from President Bush about the war and rebuilding in Iraq.

And for Brown, the election is about more than just the two candidates.

"I think the voters in Ohio understand the pivotal role that we play in national politics," he says. "I think voters in Ohio sense the opportunity to end one-party rule in this country and in this state … and understand that they have an opportunity to say, 'Let's change the direction of this country.'"

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