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US Senate candidates Josh Mandel and Morgan Harper square off during debate in Cleveland

At one point, Mandel deflected a question about whether or not he would drop out of the race if former President Donald Trump asked him to.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a previously published, unrelated story.

The race for the open United States Senate seat left by Rob Portman (R-OH) is continuing to heat up as Democrat Morgan Harper went up against Republican candidate Josh Mandel during a Monday evening debate in Cleveland. 

Mandel, a far-right Republican, kicked off the meeting between candidates by stating his allegiance to former President Donald Trump, while also deflecting a question about whether he would drop out if Trump asked him to. 

"I am trying very hard to gain the endorsement of President Trump," Mandel said Monday evening at the start of the debate. "I am doing everything I can to earn the president's support, and I'm confident I will earn the president's support as long as I keep doing what I'm doing."

Mandel's devotion comes despite the saturated pool of candidates, including Cleveland Guardians co-owner Matt Dolan and "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance. Earlier this week, Sen. Portman endorsed another candidate, Jane Timken, the former chairwoman on the Republican Party of Ohio. 

On top of her Republican opponents, Harper, a former advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is also running against U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13). 

Despite Mandel referring to Harper as "angry" throughout the debate- a dig that Harper called out as racist, the Democrat managed to stay on message and push for moderately-progressive policies. 

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