Washington (CNN) – National Republicans are attacking Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for planning to appear with President Obama at a rally for health care reform in Ohio next Monday.
Strickland, a Democrat, is seeking a second term but faces a challenge from Republican John Kasich.
"Ted Strickland has mishandled the Ohio economy and budget and now he has cast his lot with the misguided and unpopular government takeover of health care," Republican Governors Association spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Friday. "If he thinks this is good for Ohio – or good politics – then it's a good thing he'll be retiring soon."
The RGA also circulated a February poll from Quinnipiac that suggested a majority of Ohio voters "mostly disapprove" of health care reform plans currently in Congress. That same poll showed Strickland leading Kasich by five points.
Strickland's campaign shot back that Republicans are trying to change the subject on the same day the New York Times published a story outlining how Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers used misleading accounting gimmicks before the bank collapsed in 2008. Kasich is a former managing director of Lehman's investment banking division in Columbus.
A spokeswoman for Strickland's campaign defended the governor's decision to stand with the president, saying Strickland "has been outspoken about the need for comprehensive healthcare throughout his public service career and has refused to accept taxpayer funded healthcare as either Congressman or Governor until all of his constituents have access to quality healthcare."
"In contrast, Congressman John Kasich- from his 18 year career in Congress through his seven years at Lehman Brothers- has put Ohioans on the backburner and instead focused on enriching Wall Street and the big corporations," said the spokeswoman, Lis Smith.
UPDATE: Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols responded to the Lehman Brothers report and the Strickland campaign's efforts to highlight it.
"It's the same report that can be written about the state of Ohio, but the big difference is that in the state's case, Ted Strickland has been the executive who’s accountable for it all," Nichols told CNN.