Each partisan in Ohio's deadlocked Senate race claims their own voting record better reflects support for America's troops. But in this battle, the only thing left to see is boxing gloves.
NBC's "Meet the Press" debate on Sunday between Sen. Mike DeWine (R) and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) deteriorated into finger-wagging and scolding when the pair sparred over post-9/11 intelligence measures. That in-studio spat was also being played out on the small screen during commercial breaks.
Shortly before the nationally aired debate, Brown's team added a spot to its heavy rotation that described how he "went to bat" to secure equipment for American troops and chided DeWine for being lax in the matter.
DeWine has repeatedly accused Brown of voting against the troops. The 13th District congressman maintains that he decided against an $87 billion bill that provided emergency funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because he disagreed with its allocation of funds.
For his part, DeWine took a shot the same day with an ad blasting Brown for voting to cut intelligence funding. "Incredibly, Congressman Brown voted with a very small minority against the Patriot Act," the incumbent says. But Brown hit back on Tuesday with a spot complaining that "Mike DeWine is slinging mud, taking votes out of context."
DeWine's efforts may be bolstered by the right-wing Progress for America, a 527 group that's airing a 60-second spot portraying Democrats as weak on terror on cable nationally and on broadcast in Ohio and Missouri.
And Missouri isn't the only other state with a Senate contest featuring heated bouts over body armor. DeWine's Republican colleague, Virginia Sen. George Allen, is the target of an ad by a group called VoteVets.org accusing him of voting against the equipment.
But a number of distractions are clouding Allen's bid for re-election, and Allen tried to address them all at once in an unusual two-minute address aired just before primetime on Monday night. Allen employed a message many in the GOP are trying to stick to this year: "Leaving Iraq as a safe haven for terrorists will leave America less secure. And that's a risk we cannot afford."