Portman said, "One thing we need to do is to not promote policies in Washington that he's promoting that makes it harder to get ahead in Ohio."
"In this election, you have a very, very clear choice," Fisher told debate viewers. "You can choose someone who has been on the ground in every corner of this state working to save jobs in the middle of this national recession and is just as angry as you are at the Washington insiders who caused this recession. Or you can choose my opponent, Congressman Portman, who the Washington Post calls Mr. Washington."
Portman said, "If you like the way things are going, think we're headed in the right direction, you should probably support my opponent. If you're ready for a change, if you believe there's a better way, I hope you'll join our cause."
"Let's focus first on what policies got us into this recession," said Fisher."
On taxes, Fisher supports extending tax cuts for the middle class but letting them expire for millionaires and billionaires. Portman contends that any tax increase would hurt the fragile economy.
He cited as an example the air freight company DHL which devastated Wilmington when it began shuttering operations in 2008. DHL shocked city and state officials when it announced plans in 2008 to discontinue ground delivery services, which led to the end of operations in Wilmington and the loss of nearly 8,000 jobs.
Fisher responded to Portman's criticism about company visits that he doesn't need to tour factories because he's has on-the-ground experience negotiating deals and saving companies.
Portman shot back: "Maybe you ought to visit some more of those factories because that's not what I'm hearing."
Fisher said Portman has backed trade policies that have sent Ohio jobs overseas. He repeatedly sought to tie Portman to economic policies of former President George W. Bush, in whose administration Portman served as trade representative.
Portman said Fisher's proposals would mean job-killing higher taxes. "You can't continue to raise taxes," he said.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland implemented a tax cut in 2005 that resulted in state income taxes that are 16.8 percent less than they were in 2004, said a spokeswoman for Fisher, Ohio's lieutenant governor [under Strickland].
Portman said the high unemployment rate is creating a "brain drain" for Ohio. "Ohio is falling behind," he said. "We're losing businesses to other states. Some of the bes and brightest young people in Ohio are leaving our state."
Fisher sought to deflect Portman's criticism that he wasn't personally involved in the effort to save jobs. He said you do so "one job at a time, one business at a time." He cited successful efforts to save jobs in his work with Gov. Strickland.
Portman said he is committed to direct involvement to save and create jobs and highlighted a recent encounter with an unemployed Cleveland mother looking for work.
Portman, a top adviser to President George W. Bush, stuck to his main campaign theme: Fisher and the Democrats are to blame for Ohio's nearly 400,000 job losses.
Both candidates argued that other was of more of a career politician and insider, which injected energy into the debate. Fisher referred to Portman--a former corporate lawyer--as a lobbyist, Mr. Washington, a rubber stamp and the chief architect of Bush policies.
Asked by a debate panelist to reconcile such claims with his own long career as a political insider, Fisher said, "The bottom line is not so much whether you serve, it's who you serve. I think he's serving the lobbyists and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the insurance industry and Wall Street," Fisher said.
A big moment came when Fisher evoked the name of legendary Buckeye coach Woody Hayes when talking about saving jobs at plants like Cooper Tire in Findlay. "It means that we're going down that field, just like Woody Hayes did. Three yards and a cloud of dust, and we are not giving up," he said.
Portman responded by saying, "I think it's an insult to Woody Hayes' incredible record at Ohio State to somehow compare him to what's happening in Ohio the last four years. It hasn't been a successful game. We've been losing the game."
Fisher called for more stringent trade and tax policies to discourage companies from moving overseas. Portman's economic solutions included more favorable tax and regulatory policies to encourage business development, more effective workforce training programs, and undefined spending cuts to lower the deficit. He said his health-care plan would include provisions to restrict malpractice lawsuits, a GOP priority left out of the new law.
Fisher rejected cutting Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age, although he does want a bipartisan commission to address the entitlement program's long-term fiscal problems.
Although the Bush administration had sought to create private Social Security accounts, Portman said it was "not true" that he supported privatizing the program. Fisher often quotes from a 2007 interview in which Portman called the Bush proposal "very sound."
Portman admonished Fisher to "stop scaring seniors" about Social Security. But he added, "We do need to look at reforming the system" to ensure that the entitlement program survives for future generations
The above quotations are from 2010 Ohio Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 Ohio Senate Debates.
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