Senator Sherrod Brown’s campaign issued a new attack ad Friday against his rival, Republican Josh Mandel. In it, the Ohio Democrat accuses Mandel of using the “big lie” strategy in his campaign. The term “big lie” was coined by Adolf Hitler and is commonly associated with Nazi propaganda.
Mandel is Jewish.
The ad states: “Josh Mandel: He has become the candidate of the big lie.” It cites a Columbus Dispatch columnist as the source for the quote. It argues that Mandel has made numerous false statements about his career as state treasurer, among other distortions.
Brown’s ad does not specifically mention Nazis, but the term “big lie” is still closely identified with them. Earlier this week, John Burton, chairman of the California delegation to the Democrats’ Charlotte convention, was criticized when he compared Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan to the Nazis and referenced the “big lie.”
“They lie and they don’t care if people think they lie. Joseph Goebbels. It’s the big lie, you keep repeating it,” Burton told the San Francisco Chronicle. He reiterated the point in an interview with ABC: “If you’re not telling the truth, you’re lying. Joseph Goebbels’ concept was the big lie. If you tell it enough, people will think it’s the truth.”
Goebbels was Hitler’s minister of propaganda.
This is not the first time Brown has linked his opponents to Nazis. In March 2011 he publicly apologized after comparing Republican governors pushing union reforms to Hitler and Stalin in a speech on the Senate floor:
I look back in history (and) some of the worst governments that we’ve ever had, do you know one of the first things they did? They went after the trade unions. Hitler didn’t want unions, Stalin didn’t want unions, (former Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak didn’t want independent unions. These autocrats in history don’t want independent unions.
Brown then backtracked, saying “I am not comparing what’s happened to the workers in Madison or in Columbus to Hitler and Stalin.”
Brown and Mandel are locked in a tight, bitterly-fought race. RealClearPolitics.com’s poll average gives Brown, the incumbent, a three point edge. Several recent polls have shown the race tied.
Neither the Mandel campaign nor the Brown campaign could be reached for comment.
UPDATE: My Examiner colleague Phil Klein points out that Mandel’s grandfather was in fact a Holocaust survivor.
Also, the Daily Caller points out that there is reason to doubt the objectivity of Politifact Ohio, the fact check group cited in the ad.