CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (AP) - The GOP candidate for Senate in Ohio, Josh Mandel, drew murmurs of approval from southern Ohio Republicans during his discussion of budget and energy issues - and plenty of laughs with his jokes about his boyish appearance.
The 35-year-old Mandel - he looks 19 - is a onetime city councilman, state legislator and Marine veteran of Iraq. His opponent is a 59-year-old populist Democrat, first-term Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Mandel had barely moved into the state treasurer's office after his November 2010 win before he was running against Brown, who's facing strong Republican headwinds statewide.
With Ohio the ultimate battleground prize in the presidential election, the fate of the Senate candidates is linked closely to President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney. Polls show Obama and Brown with an edge.
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