The GOP’s Friday night U.S. Senate candidate forum in Ohio featured a face-off between candidates Mike Gibbons and Josh Mandel that nearly brought them to blows.
The argument between the two erupted after Mandel claimed Gibbons had “made millions” from business dealings with Chinese companies.
“You may not understand this,” Gibbons told Mandel, who then stood up from his seat and confronted Gibbons at the event hosted by FreedomWorks.
“I do,” Mandel replied.
“You have never … you have never been in the private sector in your entire life,” Gibbons told Mandel.
“Two tours in Iraq. Don’t tell me I haven’t worked,” Mandel responded, raising his voice to Gibbons.
A moderator approached the two men and attempted to defuse the situation. As Mandel was taking his seat, Gibbons said, “You don’t know squat,” prompting Mandel to rise from his seat again. Gibbons then told Mandel to “back off.”
“You back off,” Mandel responded, telling Gibbons he’s “dealing with the wrong guy.”
“Watch what happens,” Mandel said. “You watch what happens.”
“Josh Mandel is unhinged, unfit and flailing because he’s losing,” Samantha Cotten, a spokesperson for Gibbons’ campaign, said in a statement following the altercation. “He is only a professional at one thing: running for office. He is hell-bent on lying because he is failing. He doesn’t have the temperament, experience or fortitude to be a U.S. Senator, and Ohio voters got a firsthand look at just how unprepared Josh Mandel has become, and that will be reflected on the ballot on May 3.”
Mandel, a former state treasurer, and Gibbons, a businessman, are two of seven candidates facing off in the crowded Republican primary. The primary election is set to take place on May 3 in the Buckeye State.
Mandel’s campaign could not be immediately reached for comment.