On Friday night, two leading Republican candidates for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat got in each other’s faces during a heated primary debate.

A tense exchange forced a moderator to pull the two Ohio Senate candidates Josh Mandel and Mike Gibbons who clashed during a GOP primary forum hosted by FreedomWorks and held outside of Columbus.

In a video from the Gahanna debate, former state treasurer Mandel stood up to challenge investment banker Gibbons during a heated discussion over a stock trade as the crowd jeered the confrontation and a debate official sought to separate the two men.

A video shared on Twitter by Politico reporter Natalie Allison shows the exchange starting when Gibbons accuses Mandel of “never having worked in the private sector.” 

More details of the heated argument from Daily Wire:

The row between the two candidates arose over an argument about Gibbons’ alleged business dealings in China. About half an hour into the debate, Mandel called out Gibbons for his alleged role in offshoring Ohio jobs to China. Mandel claimed that Gibbons sold a company called “Perfect Fit” to a Chinese company called Shanghai Shenda. He also claimed that Gibbons owned stock in “Chinese Petro.”

Gibbons responded to Mandel’s claims, saying that he did not know where the claim about “Perfect Fit” came from because he was not aware of the deal, and that he wasn’t sure what “Chinese Petro [had] to do with anything.” Mandel interjected, claiming that Gibbons had filed with the FEC, and “made millions off it.” Gibbons fired back that he did not personally buy the stock, and did not make millions off his investment.

Mandel continued to press Gibbons on his alleged Chinese dealings. Gibbons attempted to respond, but Mandel abruptly stood up and approached Gibbons.

In the now-viral video, Gibbons claimed as Mandel stood over him face-to-face:

“You’ve never been in the private sector in your entire life … you don’t know squat.”

Mandel fired back as he got in Gibbons’ face and began to point at him:

“I’ve worked, sir. Two tours in Iraq; don’t tell me I haven’t worked.”

It was during this time when Brandon Boxer, the debate’s moderator stepped in to separate the two men as fellow GOP primary candidates J.D. Vance, Matt Dolan, and Jane Timken awkwardly looked on.

But Gibbons don’t want to end the heated conversation so he continued to verbally jab at Mandel, who stood up again and then stepped back into Gibbons’ face.

“Back off, buddy, or you’re going to end up…” Gibbons said.

“You back off,” Mandel demanded.

“Never that’ll happen, never,” Gibbons laughed.

“Watch,” Mandel responded.

Gibbons then pressed Mandel further: “You’re dealing with the wrong dude,” he said.

“You’re dealing with the wrong [guy],” Mandel fired back. “You watch what happens.”

Watch the video below:

Boxer finally managed to separate the two men, as Vance also urged them both to sit down. Vance, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps like Mandel, condemned him for the “disgraceful” way he invoked his military service during the exchange.

According to a Fox News poll in early March, Gibbons is leading the pack with 22 percent of voters backing him, while Mandel follows close behind with 20 percent of voters.

After the debate, a straw poll of about 400 voters at the forum showed majority support for Vance, who won about 43 percent of the vote, while Timken earned second place with about 20 percent of the vote.

Gibbons notched 16 percent and Mandel 4.6 percent in the straw poll.

Sources: Conservativebrief, DailyWire, Fox News poll

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