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Republican Sen. Rob Portman fired back at former Gov. Ted Strickland’s own words about gun rights during the final debate in Cleveland for U.S. Senate.
The phrase he used -- "mixed and spotty" -- was featured earlier in the campaign season in an attack ad by Fighting for Ohio PAC, a political action committee that supports Portman.
"Gov. Strickland in this campaign bragged about his A-plus rating with the NRA," Portman said, when a question was posed to him about the candidates’ records on gun issues. "I’m not talking about years ago, I’m talking about this campaign. He has said he has a ‘mixed and spotty’ record on this issue and that he can be criticized for it. Those are his words, not mine. So I don’t know where he is on this issue."
Here, we wanted to know if Strickland bragged about a sterling NRA rating in the same campaign in which he acknowledged a spotty record.
When Fighting for Ohio PAC used the "mixed and spotty" line, we rated its ad False, because Strickland’s quote was misleadingly juxtaposed with figures about Ohio’s lost jobs and tax hikes under Strickland’s governorship.
Portman is on firmer ground, because Strickland’s "mixed and spotty" remark did emerge in the context of guns.
Strickland confirmed that he was running for Portman’s Senate seat on Feb. 25, 2015.
In his 12 years as a U.S. Congressman, Strickland opposed measures to restrict gun ownership. So it was surprising to Ohio political observers when Strickland appeared at forums in Cincinnati and Columbus and talked up measures for more rigorous background checks and prohibiting gun sales to suspected terrorists.
"Ted’s views about gun violence and gun safety have been deeply influenced as a result of the multiple horrific incidents of gun violence that our country has suffered, and particularly after the Sandy Hook tragedy," Strickland’s spokesman David Bergstein told reporters
Democratic primary opponent P.G. Sittenfeld questioned whether Strickland’s change of heart on guns was motivated by the tragedy or by political timing. A recording more than two years after the attack surfaced that Sittenfeld used to his advantage.
On March 10, 2015, Strickland was a guest on WOSU’s "All Sides with Ann Fisher," and took a call from a listener named Jeffrey.
Caller: "Hey there. Gov. Strickland, I know you are a big supporter of the president and when you campaigned for him in 2012 you wrote an article about his support for the Second Amendment. I was just wondering how you continue to say you support the Second Amendment when you have been lobbying for additional gun laws when you were working in D.C."
Strickland: "Well, I have not lobbied for additional gun laws and, my brother, let me put my record in front of you. As a congressman, I had an A and most of the time an A+ rating with the National Rifle Association. That has been my position, and it is my position."
Strickland had to clarify his stance on guns in a Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board interview of Democratic primary candidates for Senate in February 2016. It was taped, and is the source of the "mixed and spotty" line.
"Has my position changed over time? It has," Strickland said. "My record is mixed and spotty and I can be criticized for that."
Portman said Strickland "in this campaign bragged about his A-plus rating with the NRA. ... He has (also) said he has a mixed and spotty record on this issue and that he can be criticized for it."
At the debate, Portman framed the quote in the proper context about guns.
We rate the statement True.
Interview, Michawn Rich, spokesperson, Rob Portman for Ohio, Oct. 20, 2016
PolitiFact Ohio, "Fighting for Ohio PAC ad takes Ted Strickland’s ‘mixed and spotty’ quote out of context," May 13, 2016
Toledo Blade, "Gun votes issue in Democrats’ senate race," Jan. 14, 2016
Campaign website, P.G. Sittenfeld, "Ted Strickland on guns," December 2015
GunsAmerica.com, "Flip-flop of the century: Prominent politician goes anti-gun," Dec. 28, 2015
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