A debate between Josh Mandel and Mike Gibbons, two Ohio Republicans vying for the same United States Senate seat, became tense after one of the men allegedly called the other a "pussy" while discussing Gibbons’ business interests in China.
Both campaigns deny it was their candidate who said the slur, particularly after a slowed-down video released by Mandel’s campaign cast doubt on who actually said it.
The moment, however, proved especially controversial for Mandel, whose incendiary campaign has continued to generate unsavory headlines.
You can watch what happened in the video below.
The two men clashed during the Ohio Senate forum hosted by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group. Gibbons accused Mandel of not understanding business tenets because “you’ve never been in the private sector in your life," a claim that prompted Mandel to declare that Gibbons doesn't know "squat."
Things grew more heated when Mandel got in Gibbons' face and boasted about his military experience, warning Gibbons not to suggest that he hasn't ever worked.
At some point, one of the men mumbled the words, "You watch what happens, p*ssy," and the moderator was forced to intervene. Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance, also campaigning for the Ohio Senate, urged the men to calm down; earlier, he and former Ohio Republican chair Jane Timken attempted to suppress their laughter as the clash between Mandel and Gibbons escalated.
The video of the incident soon went viral and the general consensus is that Mandel allegedly said offensive word. However, both men have received criticism for their behavior during the event.
Mandel, a former Ohio treasurer, has proven a controversial figure since he launched his campaign, at points using his Twitter account to promote conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and to discourage vaccinations.
Mandel has also downplayed the severity of the ongoing pandemic, referring to vaccines as "immoral" and "unethical." He was accused of trivializing the Holocaust after he compared Covid-19 vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany and urged his followers to "NOT comply with the tyranny."