Ohio U.S. Senate debates announced, Youngstown hosts first

YOUNGSTOWN - The campaigns of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and ex-Gov. Ted Strickland announced today that the two Senate candidates would debate each other three times with the first in Youngstown.

The Youngstown debate on Oct. 14 is co-sponsored by The Vindicator and 21 WFMJ-TV.

The other debates are: Oct. 17 in Columbus, sponsored by 10TV and the Columbus Dispatch, and October 20 in Cleveland, sponsored by the Cleveland City Club and Scripps ABC.

In a joint statement, Rebecca Pearcey, Strickland's campaign manager, and Corry Bliss, Portman's campaign manager, said: "These debates will provide Ohioans the opportunity to learn and evaluate where both candidates stand on the critical issues facing our state and our country. We hope that these debates will help inform voters about the choice they are facing in November in the Senate race, to encourage individuals to participate in our democracy, and will offer an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates."

They added, "Former Governor Strickland and Sen. Portman are both looking forward to participating in these debates and the opportunity to share their message with Ohioans.”

Strickland, a Democrat from the Columbus area, told The Vindicator on Friday that he wanted to debate Portman, a Republican from the Cincinnati area, as many times as possible.

Portman, seeking his second six-year term, is ahead of Strickland by 6.4 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.com, a website that aggregates polling data.

The campaigns have agreed to the following format: one hour debates with 90-second answers, 90-second responses, 30-second rebuttals, and two-minute opening and closing statements. There will be no candidate-to-candidate questions.

The campaigns will work with debate hosts and mutually agree on moderators and panelists.

This race, with about $50 million spent by the candidates and their supporters, will likely be the most-expensive Senate campaign in the state’s history, and among the most costly in the nation this year.