It was near the end of Monday’s gubernatorial debate between Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine.
Most of the questions had been asked. But there were a few more from social media.
Moderator Colleen Marshall turned to the candidates and told them viewers’ overriding concern was the divisive tone of modern political rhetoric.
“All of them say they are very concerned about the tone of public discourse,” said Marshall.
She read some of the comments posted on Facebook.
“It’s growing more vicious and less based in fact.”
“Each election it sinks to a lower and lower level.”
“We all need each other to make our democracy work.”
Cordray responded first. He decried the poor “tones” and “divisiveness” of political campaigns.
“I believe every facet of this question is on the mark, and a lot of this blaming and scapegoating is coming out of Washington,” said Cordray. “I want to stand for being able to reach across the aisle to get things done …We can do this together but we have to maintain the right tones in campaigns as well and people have to tell the truth. You can’t lie your way into office.”
If you disagree, you much be ‘Nazi’
This is a man who recently compared Republicans in the White House to Nazis and GOP county commissioners in Ohio to “Nazi collaborators.”
In fact, Cordray has accused his Republican political opponents, not once, but twice, of being “like Nazis.”
Here he is in Licking County, Ohio, on June 15:
On March 8, Cordray told the Allen County Democratic Women’s Club in Lima that Republicans at the county level were like “Vichy Republicans” in their failure to condemn the White House for its divisiveness.
“Somebody said to me last month that they’re ‘Vichy Republicans,’ which I didn’t fully understand,” Cordray told the Democrat women. “I guess that’s ‘Vichy France’ during World War II, the ones who went over and collaborated with the Nazis.”
World War II vets requested an apology. Cordray said, through a spokesman, he “regrets” making the Nazi comparison.
GOP Governors call Cordray out
The specter of Cordray standing on a stage and lecturing about the need for a return to civility in American politics no doubt elicited roaring laughter in some living rooms across Ohio.
He can’t have it both ways. He can’t compare Republicans to Hitler one day, then expect them to work with him to solve problems the next.
This rank hypocrisy was so blatant that the Republican Governors Association made special note of it after Monday’s debate.
The RGA, in a statement released Tuesday morning, called him out:
“Just weeks after he shamefully compared Republicans to Nazis and the Holocaust, Richard Cordray is now hypocritically decrying ‘poor tones’ and ‘divisiveness’ in politics.
“But that’s different rhetoric from just a few weeks ago. Cordray was caught on video claiming that the tone of the White House was “like Nazi Germany” just days after another video reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer showed him likening local Ohio Republicans to Nazi collaborators. Cordray has refused to apologize for his reckless statements despite repeated calls – even by World War II veterans – for him to do so.
“Cordray’s empty words about tone don’t match his actions on the campaign trail. He has proven to be nothing more than a hypocritical politician who can’t be trusted to lead Ohio.”
DeWine weighs in
DeWine also responded to the debate question about the poor tone of political rhetoric. Unlike Cordray, he didn’t jump to blame his political opponents.
“My whole career I’ve been a problem solver,” he said. “Look at the problem with the rape kits [which he inherited from Cordray as attorney general]. You pull people together. People said how do you solve it? You bring in the victims’ advocates and they said you test every one of them, and so that’s what we did.”
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Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.