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Ohio GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel fended off attacks from an opponent who called him a “fake, fraud and sold out” and clashed with political supporters in a packed auditorium at Victory Christian Church in Kettering, Ohio, Friday.
Trump-approved candidate JD Vance accused Mandel of being only Republicans by name (RINO) after reports from an upcoming book that Mandel pretends to be pro-Make America Great Again on the campaign track but joins the established Republicans privately.
“I think people in Washington will make false attacks all the time on people like me because I’m a constitutional conservative and a fighter,” Mandel told Fox News Digital at the demonstration, responding to Vance’s comments. “People can call me many names, that does not make it true.”
New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns briefly described Mandel, a former Ohio treasurer, speaking out of both sides of the aisle when it came to supporting former President Donald Trump over established Republican leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R – Ky.
“Mandel, admitted to Republicans in Washington that he parroted absurd rhetoric in the primary campaign out of a desire to woo Trump and his supporters – but that was simply what he thought it would take to win,” he wrote. Burns and Martin in their book. “This Will Not Pass”, which will be released on May 3rd.
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“In fact, even while publicly imitating Trump’s branding rhetoric, Mandel would privately contact McConnell’s top lieutenants to warn them whenever one of his top rivals, JD Vance, criticized the Washington Republicans – and in fact tried to have it both ways with Trump. and Trump. GOP leaders he mocked. “
In a statement Friday, Vance spokesman Taylor Van Kirk said excerpts from the book reveal that Mandel “claims to be ‘anti-establishment in the public eye, but throws President Trump and the entire MAGA movement under the bus to the establishment behind closed doors. “
“While JD Vance bravely criticized the GOP leadership and held them accountable for their failures, Mandel literally kissed the ring and bowed the knee to the RINO establishment. Josh is a cowardly political chameleon who simply cannot be trusted to put America first,” said Van Kirk.
Almond and candidate Mike Gibbons, an investment banker, was considered the top candidate in the Ohio GOP Senate primary election for most of the race, until Trump approved Vance earlier this month. A Fox News poll released Tuesday showed Vance at 23% compared to Mandel at 18% and Gibbons at 13%, with many likely voters still undecided.
Mandel told Fox News Digital Friday that he was former Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s “worst nightmare.” Mandel said he opposed the former Republican governor over the Obamacare expansion in Ohio, financial transparency, and rejected Kasich’s attempts to block pro-life legislation.
“I think people here in Ohio, the conservative grassroots, know that there is only one fighter, only one real conservative in this race – and that’s me, Josh Mandel,” he said, flanked by Senator Ted Cruz, R -Texas.
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Cruz, who bounced to Mandel on Friday, agreed. “If you look at Josh’s record, he has the strongest conservative record in standing and fighting for conservative principles,” Cruz told Fox News Digital.
“Many of the people who run against me, many of the people in the media, in the party’s squishy, RINO, establishment wing, they think America is a slogan first. It’s not a slogan, it’s a governing philosophy. And I’m the only one who gets it, “Mandel said.
Implementing America’s first principles at the border, for example, “means securing the border and deporting every single illegal in this country – not because we hate foreigners, but because we love this country,” Mandel said.
Prior to the convention, attendees told Fox News they liked what they heard from Mandel, including his faith and his Marine Corps service.
Several participants said they support Trump but are unhappy with his support for Vance. One said it was a “mistake”. Another called Vance a “Judas.” One contestant said they think Vance, if he wins the GOP nomination, might make a choice on the left, leaning on his earlier criticism of Trump as he faces a Democrat.
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During his speech, Mandel proclaimed his focus on churches during the campaign for applause from the audience. He exclaimed great crowds, he attracted at churches throughout Ohio.
Mandel also called anti-Trump Republican reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, as well as Senator Mitt Romney of R-Utah, said, “We have to do everything we can to eliminate them from the Republican Party and from politics.”
The Republican Senate primary election in Ohio will be held on May 3rd.
Fox News’ Mark Meredith contributed to this report.