When Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Democratic candidate Richard Cordray met face-to-face in the first debate of the Ohio gubernatorial race, the candidates pulled no punches, attacking each other furiously throughout the hourlong event.
The debate took place at Dayton University, and gave two politicians who are quite familiar with each other the chance to rekindle a rivalry that began when DeWine beat Cordray in the 2010 state attorney general race.
“You’re all talk. You’ve done nothing,” DeWine told Cordray. “You’ve been a failure in every job you’ve ever had.”
In this first debate, the candidates were asked to address the issues of highest importance to the citizens of Ohio, including health care, the economy, the opioid crisis, and abortion.
Looming over the debate, although not present, were President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama. Trump and Obama have endorsed and campaigned for their respective party’s candidate, and Cordray’s background as Obama’s appointee to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been a key point of attack for DeWine.
The two candidates criticized each other’s terms as attorney general, with DeWine calling Cordray “ineffective” in his two years in the office in dealing with the opioid epidemic, and Cordray quipping that following DeWine on the opioid issue was like “asking for navigation advice from the captain of the Titanic.”
Cordray attempted to appeal to right-leaning voters by saying he would be honest about Trump’s impact on the country, even if it is good. But he made it clear he would fight back if he thought Trump was in the wrong.
On the issues
On health care, the dispute is about Medicaid expansion that Gov. John Kasich controversially implemented in Ohio. Both candidates support continuing that expansion, but DeWine wants work requirements.
They discussed abortion as well, specifically a bill known as the “Hearbeat Bill” that is in the state Legislature and would ban all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest and risk to the mother. Cordray opposes the bill, while DeWine said he would sign it.