Here’s the lede from the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s coverage of today’s bizarre press conference called by the Ohio Republican Party:

YodaNoTry Republicans on Tuesday again tried to turn a perceived weak spot of their gubernatorial candidate John Kasich into a moot point.

The idea that the Lehman Brothers attacks have been a dud is pretty much refuted now by the fact that Kasich first ad was not a general introductory ad to voters, or even an attack ad against Strickland, but a misleading downplaying of his role at Lehman Brothers and now an ORP press conference attacking Ted Strickland for his ties to…. John Kasich’s last employer?  (Also, there’s the multiple public polling showing Kasich’s unfavorables skyrocketing.)

First, the GOP attempts a neat slight of hand:

“the Ohio Republican Party suggested the governor is a hypocrite for blasting Kasich for his Wall Street ties while Strickland himself has accepted about $1.5 million in campaign contributions the GOP identified as coming from the financial services sector.”

Of course, the financial services sector includes businesses not on Wall Street…

"We don’t know what’s more amusing, that Ohio Republicans want to inject Lehman Brothers into the governor’s race once again or that they are equating circuit board producers in Canton with Wall Street tycoons," Pickrell said in a followup statement.

Indeed, Strickland’s campaign contribution records compiled by Republicans are full of insurance agents and office assistants and bank workers who appear to not have any connection to Wall Street.

And that’s not all the GOP included to suggest that Strickland received $1.5 million from the “financial services sector.”  They included a guy from the IT department at the Cleveland office of the Federal Reserve and accountants. Caught in their sham criticism, the ORP Chairman blamed it on … (you guessed, it) Ted Strickland:

Republicans later explained that Strickland, while still a member of Congress in the 1990s, voted for the commodity futures modernization act and financial services modernization act. Both measures, according to Republicans, broadly defined the financial services industry as including insurance companies along with investment banks.

"These are the terms that were defined by Ted Strickland and his Democratic allies. We used the same filter when we went through and looked at all his campaign contributions," DeWine said. "They are the ones who defined Wall Street as the State Farm agent."

Anyone buy that?  (Hand down, Keeling.)

Then they attacked Strickland for… giving business to John Kasich’s company?

Republicans also charged that Strickland or one of his appointees has awarded over $6 billion in work to Lehman or Barclay since 2007 through several deals.

Those transactions include two huge deals from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency which awarded one contract to Lehman in August 2008, a month before the firm collapsed, and another in October 2008, a month after Lehman went under, to Barclays, which took over part of Lehman.

Well, Barclays is still a viable business, and there’s absolutely no reason why Strickland should be criticized for giving them business.  It’s a leading global leader in the financial sector.  Blaming Strickland for the State doing business with Lehman before it collapsed is like blaming a burglary victim for buying the house and all that expensive stuff that made the crime possible in the first place.

Where did John Kasich go after Lehman Brothers collapsed?  Yep, Barclays.  The very experience that the same Ohio Republican Party cites as evidence of Kasich as a “business leader.”

I can’t believe that the Ohio Republican Party is attempting to try to make Ted Strickland look more “Wall Street” than this guy:

There is so much strategically (and factually) wrong with what the Ohio Republican Party did with its press conference today, I can’t process it all.

After months of accusing Strickland of being hostile to Ohio businesses, they attack him … for how much money local business leaders are donating to re-elect him?

After months of saying Strickland’s references to Kasich’s Wall Street past was a smear… the Ohio GOP attempt to tie Strickland to Wall Street for accepting donations from Ohio’s small town insurance agents?

They vilify Kasich’s sole private business experience worse than even the Strickland campaign has done by suggesting that it was improper for the State to even do business at all with Lehman Brothers or any business that succeeded it.  And they trotted out the House and Senate GOP leaders to do it who, of course, are so upset about Ohio doing business with Barclays that they’ve… never uttered a peep about it until now and have done nothing legislatively to end it.

But in the grand scheme, not only was the Ohio Republican Party foolish in attempting to fight the gubernatorial election on the Strickland campaign’s chosen field of battle.  They ridiculously tried to suggest that Strickland was somehow more tied to the financial services industry, which they falsely conflated to being tied to Wall Street more than their own ticket which consists entirely of a former Lehman Brothers executive and his running mate, a CPA.  DeWine’s attacks work, but only after you’ve hit your head with a sledgehammer enough that you’ve lost the concept of proportionality.

So desperate was Kevin DeWine to bash Strickland in a war of false equivalencies, he actually lumped together Ohio companies like Nationwide Insurance and Huntington Bank in with Lehman Brothers.  The Dayton Daily News points out why Kevin DeWine’s “funny math” and conflating any financial services industry employee (like say, a CPA?) with “Wall Street” is grossly misleading:

Ohio has the ninth-largest insurance industry in the nation, with 249 insurance companies headquartered in the state in 2009, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Kevin DeWine vilified the ninth-largest insurance industry in the nation in order to push an attack against John Kasich’s top floor office view of Lehman Brother’s collapse and resulting economic dominoes.

DeWine justified the broad definition of financial services to make his attack of Strickland claiming that the Strickland campaign has attacked the entire financial services industry when anyone who has been paying attention knows its been Lehman Brothers that has been singled out.  What was clearly intended to be a new twist in the GOP’s messaging evaporated under the weight of the actual facts within hours of being first uttered.  In other words, Kevin DeWine didn’t make it past the initial B.S. test.

Reading and listening to the media coverage of today’s event, the media clearly isn’t buying the narrative that DeWine try to create.  Despite a really, really, really thick binder he tried to impress the media over, it was a collated piece of crap that required the Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party to attack a Democratic governor of being too friendly to businesses… at a time in which Ohioans want a Governor who can work with businesses to create jobs.

Please re-read that last paragraph.  And then read it again.  Slower this time.  Read it out loud.  Go get a drink of water.  Come back, and read it again.  Yep, it’s still there.  I can’t believe it either.

Today, the Ohio Republican Party attacked Ted Strickland for being supported by Ohio businesses we’re counting on as we continue to dig ourselves out of the Lehman Brothers recession.  And in having to resort to a broad brush in which to make that attack, the ORP vilified John Kasich’s employment and lumped Mary Taylor’s CPA status and a major sector of Ohio’s economy in with Lehman Brothers.

Wow.

Kevin DeWine….. READY…….. AIM…. MISFIRE!

So, who will the new ORP Chairman be?  And how soon do you think he’ll start?

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