A Marine Corps veteran running as a Republican for an Ohio seat in the U.S. Senate has fielded all manner of strange campaign tactics, but his latest ad left online viewers scratching their heads.
In his most recent video spot, Josh Mandel is seen walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously marched for Black civil rights. It’s there that Mandel decries Critical Race Theory, saying that King marched so “skin color wouldn’t matter.”
The ad goes on to show a photo of Mandel serving alongside five Marines “of every color,” from one of his two tours in Iraq, with darkened hands.
A Twitter user, @NotCapnAmerica, suggested that Mandel’s head was photoshopped onto a Black soldier’s body. Politico reporter Natalie Allison debunked this, finding the original photo, which shows a much lighter Mandel that was seemingly photoshopped darker in the ad.
Mandel, 44, enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 2000 and served for eight years. And while this photo is not the scandal many believed it to be, this is not the first questionable tactic Mandel has deployed in his Senate campaign.
The self-proclaimed “Pro-God, Pro-Gun, Pro-Trump” candidate recently received the endorsement of disgraced Army Gen. Mike Flynn.
Flynn served as former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser until it was revealed that he was less than forthcoming with then-White House officials about conversations he had in 2017 with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. at the time.
Mandel also falsely accused his opponent, fellow Republican and businessman Mike Gibbons, of saying the military doesn’t count as real work in an ad featuring Gold Star mother Sheila Nowacki, whose Marine son was killed in 2005 in Iraq.
Gibbons, however, never said that military service isn’t real work.
During a primary debate on March 18, CNN reported that Gibbons refuted an argument from Mandel about his investments, saying that Mandel wouldn’t understand his financials because he’s “never been in the private sector in your entire life.”
Mandel and Gibbons also nearly turned a verbal fight physical during a primary debate.
The pair are running to succeed Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican who is not seeking re-election this year.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.