Always Right with Bob Frantz on WHK Radio in Cleveland talked to U.S. Senate candidate Mike Gibbons to comment upon his altercation in a live debate with challenger Josh Mandel.
Frantz: In this instance, Josh Mandel was standing and speaking. He challenged Mike Gibbons, I played this for you before and then surrendered the floor to him. Mike Gibbons stood. And then Mike Gibbons responded in a way that apparently Josh Mandel didn’t like, because then he also stood.
And when he stood, he walked over and approached Mike Gibbons. Well, it didn’t look like it was nose-to-nose. And then this was part of the encounter that happened.
(Mike Gibbons and Josh Mandel clip plays)
Frantz: All right, there you go. That’s the meat of the situation in the conversation. You heard a slight bleep there because there was a word there that would get us in trouble if we played it on the air.
And the question remains whether or not it’s going to cause a problem for Josh Mandel, who used it in that showdown with Mike. Given that, I’m told Mike Gibbons is on the line now.
So let’s welcome the Senate candidate and right now in the polls, the frontrunner in the Senate race to replace Rob Portman, Mike Gibbons. Back to our program. Mike, good morning.
Gibbons: Morning, Bob. (Chuckles) That’s the first time I’ve heard that.
Frantz: Oh, really? You have not listened back to the recording since Friday night?
Gibbons: No, I hadn’t.
Frantz: Oh, wow. Okay. Well, then give me your first reaction to that.
Gibbons: Well, to be honest, I didn’t hear any of that. I don’t remember any of that interchange because frankly, I was thinking I’m here running for office because I love America and want to try and help fix things.
And it’s the U.S. Senate race and I now have a guy charging me and it looks like he’s going to punch me. And what do you do in front of 500 people when somebody’s going to punch you? I’ve never encountered that before.
Frantz: I know you’re saying this is the first time you listened back to it. So you’re saying when you were on the stage and he stood up and kind of marched toward you and then said, you watch what happens. You watch what happens blank.
Gibbons: I don’t remember that.
Frantz: You didn’t hear it at the moment.
Gibbons: I probably did. All I can tell you, I was in a state of, I went into this is a fight mode, and I can’t believe it. I’m onstage running for the U.S. Senate, and all of a sudden there’s this guy charging me onstage.
He didn’t just walk up and stand there. He put his chest in mine. And the way I grew up, that’s a challenging situation. And I thought, what do I do now? (Chuckles)
Frantz: It sounded like, Mike, what you said is, you better back up, buddy, or something like that. And he said, no, you back down. And you said, that will never, ever, ever happen.
So you were engaging at the time. But I guess when the adrenaline gets pumping the way that it did there, and again, you sounded like you’re in fight-or-flight mode. And it’s either “he’s going to punch me and I’m going to have to react, or I’m going to have to walk away.”
Gibbons: I’ve been around and I’ve been in those situations before, but it was just a total shock to have that kind of thing happen on a stage where you’re doing a pretty serious thing, a pretty important thing. And I think he has issues. There’s no doubt about it.
Frantz: Have you had any kind of an acrimonious relationship? I mean, obviously you guys are all competing against one another, everybody’s in this race so I know there’s some level of maybe not fondness, I guess, because you have to treat this like a battle. It is a political battle.
But aside from the fact that you’re both running for the same position, Mike Gibbons, have you had any acrimonious type of relationship with Josh Mandel in the past, and how surprised were you that he turned this as almost-physical as it got?
Gibbons: I’ve not had an acrimonious relationship with him. When he ran for treasurer I supported him. I’ve had breakfast with him. He’s a nice guy, or at least I thought he was, and frankly, this was a shock.
Now, this is the first time we’ve ever been onstage together in a debate situation where I’m kind of running away from him in the polls and I don’t think he’s ever had anybody beat him in a primary before and he’s having a lot of trouble with it.
Frantz: And this is just your opinion, of course. Do you think this was a desperate move on his part to try to gain more attention as the polls kind of start to shift?
Gibbons: If you are an observer of this election from the outside, every few weeks Josh is throwing a show someplace, and he debated a Democrat Senate candidate a few weeks ago and it turned into a show.
He’s been thrown out of a board meeting physically. He was thrown out of a fundraiser in Florida. It’s always Josh Mandel thrown out of some place, and it’s a physical thing with him that people are escorting them out.
And frankly, I think he’s a bit unhinged. And I’m not quite sure he’s the kind of person that you want to represent the state.
Listen to the full interview here: