It’s estimated that a billion people will tune-in to watch the Opening Ceremony event Friday night at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

In addition to the expected flash, pizazz, colorful national uniforms athletes will parade in, and the always new way to light the Olympic torch, Ohioans tuned-in will see some wrestling between Ted Strickland and Rob Portman, who will go at each other in a closely watched senate race that could decide whether Democrats regain control of the U.S. Senate by winning four net seats or Republicans hold on.

For Ohio’s junior Washington senator first elected in 2010, Rob Portman,, the Olympic backdrop will be a platform to declare, with little surprise, that the United States out competes others when the playing field is level. Repeating what President Obama, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Ohio’s senior Washington Senator, Sherrod Brown, have all said many times before, that “no country can out work us, out innovate us, or out perform us,” Portman will add that other countries, including China, only win when they “cheat to steal Ohio’s manufacturing jobs.”

Sen. Rob Portman and Gov. John Kasich campaign on stage in 2012 in Chillicothe with Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Chillicothe.

Sen. Rob Portman and Gov. John Kasich campaign on stage in 2012 in Chillicothe with Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Chillicothe.

David Caldwell of the United Steelworkers issued a statement debunking Portman’s claim of being both worker friendly and wanting fairer trade deals.

“If Senator Portman’s decades-long record of championing job-killing trade deals hadn’t caused so much damage and suffering to Ohio’s working families, then his ad would be laughable,” Caldwell said. “It takes more than a phony shot of walking around in a hard hat to be on the side of working families,” he said, then pivoting to back Ted Strickland.

Caldwell continued, “Portman thinks working Ohioans are stupid, but we aren’t: we’ve seen Portman – in his own words – praising China and arguing passionately on behalf of damaging trade policies that have devastated our economy.”

Other labor leaders, from Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga to Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dorsey Hager, took Portman to the woodshed on issues key to labor, like raising the minimum wage, not embracing right-to-work laws and other trade, tax and labor policies that diverge what what the senator has fought for in the past.

Sen. Portman has endorsed his party’s presidential nominee, the New York reality TV star Donald Trump, but he has no intention of being seen with Trump between now and Election Day in November. That’s a 180 from four years ago, when Portman and Gov. John Kasich were eager to be seen with Mitt Romney. Many said Mitt might have increased his campaign chances in Ohio had he selected Portman instead of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.

Ready, Wrestle!

Teeing up the ball for Ted Strickland to take a whack at it, Rob Portman will say he always stands with Ohio workers and families, then he’ll point to recent endorsements by unions to show he’s pro-worker. “I’m fighting every day to level the playing field for Ohio workers, standing up to my own party on trade, and fighting back against China when they threaten Ohio jobs,” Portman will say to camera.

Sen. Portman and his allies have spent $35 million and more to downgrade Strickland, relying on the governor’s final job tally after the Great Recession took its toll on Ohio, which like nearly all other states, many of them run by Republican governor’s and legislatures, didn’t fare well. Even so, the two candidates are locked in a close race, and as goes the Donald goes, Portman knows his odds of winning become longer the farther Trump falls. New post-convention polling showing Trump declining as Mrs. Clinton rises should be worrisome to Team Portman.

The large audience of Ohioans expected to watch the Olympics will see Strickland take on Portman on China and his friendliness to workers, as part of the Strickland Campaign’s ongoing six-figure paid media campaign featuring a mix of search, social and digital pre-roll advertising. “The Portman Triple-Aerial-Flip-Flop” will air feature Sen. Portman as political gymnast.

Strickland communicators note the TV ad highlights Portman’s “disingenuous election-year claim that he opposes unfair trade deals —  after spending decades in Washington voting for and championing bad trade agreements that have cost Ohio over 300,000 jobs to places like China.”

Strickland Campaign Spokesman, David Bergstein, said Friday morning, “This is the perfect time to remind Ohioans that Senator Portman has tried to flip and flop on his trade record more times than an Olympic gymnast — but he can’t escape his decade long, unabashed support for unfair trade deals that have cost Ohio over 300,000 jobs to places like China. No matter what he says in an election year, the truth is that Portman is the ultimate Washington insider, a dedicated outsourcer of American jobs, and he’s the best senator China’s ever had.”

One news poll out today from NBC/WSJ shows Clinton at 47, Trump at 38. Mrs. Clinton leads Trump with African-American voters 91 percent to 1 percent. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is speaking at the National Association of Black Journalists conference in D.C.

A second poll, this one from McClatchy, has Clinton at +15 [Clinton 48, Trump 33]. A third poll, from Suffolk University on Florida, has Clinton up over Trump 47-41.

Sen. Portman, who despite nearly six years in office doesn’t have good name recognition among Ohioans, is following the example set by Wisconsin officials—Gov. Scott Walker, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator Ron Johnson—who have better things to do than be seen with Trump at his rally in Green Bay today.

In contrast, when Hillary Clinton and her running mate Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine were in Ohio just days after the DNC concluded its nominating convention in Philadelphia last week, Gov. Strickland was there with them.

 

 

 

 

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