OXFORD — The five Ohio Republican candidates for U.S. Senate took shots at their opponents and the Biden Administration throughout the one-hour debate Tuesday night at Armstrong Student Center’s Wilks Theatre on Miami University’s campus.

But at least there were no physical confrontations.

The debate that was broadcast live on WLWT News 5 featured the candidates for the Republican nomination ― Ohio Sen. Matt Dolan, Mike Gibbons, Josh Mandel, Jane Timken and J.D. Vance.

During a previous debate in Gahanna, a Columbus suburb, Gibbons and Mandel, who are leading the polls in Ohio’s Republican primary for the seat held by retiring Sen. Rob Portman, nearly came to blows.

On Tuesday night, Mandel, the last of the five to appear on stage, patted Gibbons on the shoulder as he walked by on the way to his podium.

Gibbons and Mandel were positioned next to each other on stage and after the debate, they shook hands.

Timken, who calls herself “a mom on a mission,” said the highly publicized confrontation between Gibbons and Mandel was “embarrassing” for the Republican Party since they acted like children.

“Children don’t win elections,” she said during her opening statement.

When talking about her opponents, Timken said “there’s a lot of show horses,” but she was the only “workhorse.”

The primary is scheduled for May 3, and the candidates are vying for the coveted endorsement of former President Donald Trump. While all of them said they support Trump, they bashed President Joe Biden for shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline.

The winner of the primary will likely face Congressman Tim Ryan, who is leading the Democrats for that party’s nomination, in November. Republicans want to retain the Senate seat in hopes to flip ― or at least maintaining a 50-50 split in ― the chamber in Washington, D.C.

The candidates were asked about the economy and rising gas and food prices, the world crisis in Ukraine, the spike in gun violence, and whether they support Critical Race Theory.

Gibbons said he communicated with his son, a Navy pilot, before the debate and learned he was deployed to an unknown region. He said the U.S. should support the Ukraine military, but “this is not our war.”

Mandel, a former Marine, said sending U.S. troops to Ukraine is “off the table.”

Vance, a Middletown native, said for every 20 minutes the media talks about Ukraine, it spends one minute addressing inflation.

“We got to focus on our own problems,” he said. “We got problems at home.”

When addressing crime and gun rights, all candidates said they fully support the Second Amendment.

Mandel said “gun rights came from God.”

Dolan said if somebody has been determined mentally ill by a court of law and a doctor that person maybe should not have firearms until they get help. “That is not about the Second Amendment folks, that is about preventing unnecessary and awful tragedies in this country.”

Timken, who lives on a farm and owns a gun, blamed the current administration for defunding the police. She said it’s time to treat “criminals like criminals and police officers like heroes.”

Here are some other highlights from the debate:

Mandel on pro-life: “Nothing else matters. It’s time to stop the evils of abortion.”

Timken on the American dream: “It’s at risk. I’m in this race for you.”

Gibbons on why he would make a good politician: “I cannot be bought.”

Mandel of Critical Race Theory: “Tears people apart.” He supports faith, family and God, he said.

Gibbons on what he called “woke-ism”: “Our schools are a disaster.”

About the Author