Insulting the Military in the Buckeye Brawl: Mandel/Gibbons Debate

Ohio – When two candidates for an office stand nose to nose and nearly come to blows in a debate, you know there is an issue that is causing trouble. No, it wasn’t the Ukraine war. No, it wasn’t inflation or energy independence. It wasn’t even Biden’s ridicuous policies. It was insulting the Military. Someone, maybe two of them, needed a spanking.

Insulting the Military

Josh Mandel, the current Ohio State treasurer, Mike Gibbons, and JD Vance are among those running for the Senate seat occupied by Rob Portman, who is retiring. On March 18 at a candidate forum in Columbus, Ohio, while Mike Gibbons had the floor, Josh Mandel inserted a statement about Gibbons receiving money from a Chinese petroleum firm and selling Ohio companies to China. Then Gibbons proceeded to insult the US military as not knowing how to work.

Gibbons shot back that Mandel “didn’t know squat about the private sector,” having never been in it.

At that point, Mandel sprung up, got in Gibbons in face, standing nose-to-nose with him, barking ” I served two tours in Iraq, don’t tell me I haven’t worked.”

The forum moderator was then up, rushing over to split the two men apart. J.D. Vance also moved to divide Mandel and Gibbons, after the moderator already did.


Then the heated exchange became worse as one of the two allegedly called the other a “pussy.” Mandel told Gibbons to “back off.” Then Gibbons said, “You’re dealing with the wrong dude.” To which Mandel replied, “No, you’re dealing with the wrong guy.” Fortunately they were separated before they came to blows.

The problem? Backlash with a straw poll of 400 attendees after the debate: Candidate JD Vance suddenly became the frontrunner at 43%, with Jane Timkin (endorsed by Rob Portman) coming in second at 20%. Gibbons and Mandel fell to the bottom. Prior to the debate, Gibbons was at 22% and Mandel at 20% as the frontrunners. Insulting the military did Gibbons no good at all.

“I hate when people use the Marine Corps as a political football. I don’t know why you use the Marine Corps every single time you’re attacked, Josh. It’s kind of ridiculous.”

JD Vance, also an Iraq War Marine (noncombatant) at a separate debate on Monday

When the media reported all of this back and forth, retired Lt Gen Mike Flynn demanded that Gibbons apologize to the US Military for saying they “don’t work.”

The men and women who served in our armed forces and those in our nation’s past who have sacrificed their lives for our nation, worked their tails off so you could get rich off of selling businesses to China. Mr. Gibbons, you need to apologize to all our military for believing that we don’t actually work for a living. Come live on the battlefield for one second and you’ll experience something that is unimaginable to most, and that is serving our nation for a greater cause.

Lt Gen Mike Flynn – who endorsed Josh Mandel

So…bad blood between candidates poisons a campaign. Neither Josh Mandel nor Mike Gibbons helped themselves. Gibbons may have sealed his fate completely by being an arrogant ass. Mandel was rude to interrupt the guy who had the floor. The primary is in May – we’ll wait to see who wins.


H/T Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children


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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. All of her posts on Conservative Firing Line are also posted on Uncle Sam's.

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