Michigan GOP U.S. Senate nominee Terri Lynn Land called for the federal government to secure the U.S. border with Mexico and slammed President Barack Obama for failing to properly deal with Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists during an editorial board event with local news outlet MLive.com on Monday.
“I’m a mom, I have two kids, and I’ll tell you it hurts my heart with these children who have come across this border,” Land said when asked about immigration reform and whether the U.S. government should allow illegal aliens to stay in the U.S.
“President Obama has basically told them they could come here illegally,” Land said of the children who illegally crossed the border as part of the border crisis. “He needs to let them know that that’s not the way it works here. We need to get these children back to their parents and we need to put as much resources and time [as necessary] into making sure that happens. Now if some of these children are here under refugee status they’re welcome to go through that process and we should make sure that happens, but we need to get these children back to their parents.”
Land also called for the border to be secured.
“I support securing the border,” she said. “I think it’s important that U.S. Border Patrol has the resources it needs for Border Patrol agents. We need to give them the highest tech equipment that they need in order to secure the border and we need to work on the fence at the border. So I think if we take all these things together we can have a secure border.”
When the conversation with MLive’s editors–broadcast online and held live in an event before hundreds of Michiganders–turned to ISIS, Land said President Obama has not handled the situation well enough. She said Obama is “leading from behind” on ISIS, and he must develop a long-term strategic plan, then take it to Congress for a vote–something he hasn’t done at this time.
“ISIS is a terrorist organization and it has to be stopped,” Land said. “The president has not led on this. He even volunteered that himself. He’s leading from behind. He called ISIS the jayvee team. This is a very serious situation and we must take it seriously. The president needs to come up with a plan–a clear plan–a very concise plan and a long term plan and it needs to involve talking to your generals, talking to the military and all the people who make the decision; and then he needs to bring it to Congress and Congress needs to vote on it.”
The Michigan Senate race between Land and Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI), a Detroit-area Democratic congressman, is one of the most interesting this year because of the high levels of outside spending on both sides.
On Tuesday morning, The Hill reported that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) pulled its planned TV advertising time out of Michigan, cutting “the remaining television it had reserved” in the state–more than $850,000 it pulled back to the committee in Washington. The Hill argued it’s because Land “is having trouble catching” Peters, but an NRSC strategist and the NRSC Independent Expenditure Committee’s top consultant Ron Bonjean both told to The Hill that the NRSC is cutting back because outside groups are stepping into the void to back Land.
“No one should be surprised to see us make a significant investment in this race in the coming days and weeks. However, right now the other outside allied groups have Michigan well covered,” Bonjean said, adding: “We will be making more decisions on the race during the next four weeks and strongly believe Terri Lynn Land will be a US Senator on November 4th.”
Bonjean also told The Hill that the NRSC is “monitoring this state very closely and think[s] that Terri Lynn has an excellent chance to win.”
“Terri Lynn Land’s fundraising prowess over Gary Peters plus the public support from multiple groups is allowing us to shift TV resources elsewhere for the moment while continuing our investment in the campaign on the ground,” an anonymous NRSC strategist told The Hill as well. “The ground game and turnout operation in Michigan is already one of the strongest campaigns in the country.”
Michigan GOP spokesman Darren Littell told Breitbart News that Michigan’s Republican ground game is impressively strong, saying the party has made personal contact with over 2 million voters statewide just this year.
“The ground game operation is something our chairman made a top priority and we’ve made a significant investment into it,” Littell said when reached by phone on Tuesday. “We have 22 field offices and we’ve made over 2 million voter contacts this year. It’s a combination of phones, doors, and we also have some technology we developed called MIteamdashboard. It allows volunteers to walk precincts and do everything from home or from the road. They don’t have go to into a victory center. This past weekend we knocked on over 150,000 doors. We think that the focus that we’ve made and the investment we’ve made is going to help our candidates win this fall.”
Outside expenditure groups are certainly spending big for Land, too. Ending Spending Action Fund’s president Brian Baker told Breitbart News his group has already spent $5 million in the race and plans to spend more.
“The fact that major Democratic groups continue buying media in Michigan is a sign that both the Governor’s race and the Senate race remain competitive,” Baker said in an email. “We fully expect that both Gov. Snyder and Terri Lynn Land will win in November.”
Baker’s group is currently up with a $1.1 million television ad buy, a one-minute spot that slams Peters for connections he has with various convicted felons.
“The company you keep says a lot about you,” a narrator reads in the ad, which opens with a photo Peters took with convicted felon Tomo Duhanaj. “Take Gary Peters. Peters has so many ties to convicted felons it’s hard to remember them all. There’s Tomo Duhanaj, an illegal immigrant and convicted felon. He preyed on Michiganders illegally loaning money at super-high interest rates and using threats of violence to collect. He was convicted, sentenced to 41 months in prison and deportation. Peters’ campaigns took this criminal’s money six times over two years and also from his wife and brother, arrested on federal weapons violations. Don’t forget about Xhafer Laho, another convicted criminal. Peters’ campaigns took Laho’s money nine times over four years. Given all this, is it any surprise Peters hired Kwame Kilpatrick’s chief of staff to work for his congressional office, a man who was convicted of bribery in his last government job? Gary Peters. Can we really trust him?”
Then there’s B-PAC, a new group focused on foreign policy, which has spent close to a million dollars in the race already a spokesman told Breitbart News.
In one of the group’s ads, which were first highlighted by The Weekly Standard‘s Michael Warren, images of the Benghazi terrorist attack, the IRS’s Lois Lerner, the rise of ISIS terrorists and Attorney General Eric Holder–who has been voted into both criminal and civil contempt of Congress for failure to comply with a congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.
“For as long as I can remember, the rest of the world has looked to America as the last great hope on earth,” a narrator reads in one of the B-PAC ads. “But for the last six years, we’ve had a president and a Senate who have divided us and who have fumbled foreign policy leading from behind. “This November, we can send Gary Peters to Washington, and nothing will change. Or, we can elect Terri Lynn Land and start to fix what’s gone so terribly wrong.”
B-PAC has run three total ads, and sources close to B-PAC say the group’s confidence in an eventual Land victory in November can be seen by its continued spending.
In recent weeks, Land slid in polls after being neck-and-neck in polls coming out of the summer. She, like many other Republicans nationwide, saw a slip in the polls in late September as the president launched airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, Democratic and left-wing groups increased spending in Michigan, with another left-wing group, VoteVets, launching a $270,000 television buy touting Peters’ service in the U.S. Navy reserve, showing a photo of him in uniform.
“You can tell a lot about a person by their actions,” Alan Opra, a handicapped veteran from Macomb, MI, who appears in a wheelchair in the ad, narrates in the VoteVets ad for Peters. “A navy reservist and successful businessman, Gary Peters re-enlisted after 9/11. In Washington, while other politicians just yelled and hogged the cameras, Gary Peters just went to work, as always; Improving veterans’ healthcare for men and women, and job training for returning vets.”
VoteVets is funded, according to Politico, in part by liberal environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer–who’s spending big in Michigan on Peters’ behalf through the various environmental groups he’s funded.
Left-wing environmentalists have come in big in Michigan for Peters, spending millions on advertisements attacking Land. But the attacks seem to have simmered down in recent weeks after a series of fact-checks by local media and aggressive reporting by national conservative media exposed Peters’ hypocrisy with his various corporate investments in the same kinds of companies he was attacking Land over.
Meanwhile, after Peters originally earlier this year promising to have as many debates as possible, has backed out of debates in the final weeks according to Land’s campaign.
“Hopefully we will have debates as we go forward and continue to do that because an open Senate seat doesn’t occur very often in Michigan,” Peters said in an interview on Detroit’s ABC Channel 7 in May. “The voters of this state deserve to hear in depth about candidates, our positions, as well as how we have a vision for Michigan moving forward.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported late last week that Peters’ campaign sent an email to Land’s campaign canceling a conference call that would have negotiated the terms of a debate in the final weeks. The Land campaign said the email constituted Peters “chickening out on debating” Land after her “strong performance in her 60 minute Michigan Public Radio interview.”
Peters’ campaign debate negotiator, Lt. Gov. John Cherry, denied that the email he sent meant that Peters won’t actually debate. “I am not aware that negotiations have broken down,” he said, and he criticized press leaks for being “hurtful and transparently dishonest” on Land’s part. Nonetheless, Peters still hasn’t agreed to the debates he said he would before.