Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) seemed to suggest during Thursday night’s debate that she would support President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, but the Minnesota Republican Party called her comments insincere.
Smith faced off against Republican challenger Karin Housley at Hamline University in St. Paul for the second-to-last debate of the campaign, discussing Trump’s recent calls to end birthright citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants in the country.
“The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the birthright of every person born in this country. That is the constitution, the president cannot overturn the constitution with an executive order. Here’s something that I agree on with Paul Ryan,” Smith said, proceeding to argue that the country “desperately” needs “common sense, comprehensive immigration reform.”
“I believe that it should include two fundamental components. The first is that we need strong border security. We need borders that—we need to do that with more physical barriers, with better humans at the borders doing intelligence and border security,” she continued, sparking some buzz on social media as to whether she was referencing the proverbial border wall.
But the Minnesota Republican Party quickly shot down Smith’s comments, saying she wants voters “to think she’s for comprehensive immigration reform.”
Minnesota Republican Party Communications Director Preya Samsundar pointed out that Smith voted against a bill in February that would have provided DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship while diverting $25 billion in funding for Trump’s border wall.
.@TinaSmithMN wants you to think she's for comprehensive immigration reform. Here's a thread on the facts:
— Preya Samsundar (@psamsundar) November 2, 2018
Additionally, she opposed a bill that eases cooperation between local and federal law enforcement agencies in order to detain “violent criminals and suspected terrorists” who are in the country illegally. The bill, in theory, prohibits what many candidates claim they are referring to when discussing “sanctuary states,” an idea supported by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party’s top candidates, such as Tim Walz.
Smith and Housley also sparred over the Democrat’s recent absence from the only statewide televised debate, which Smith claims she had to miss because of a “complicated schedule.” When pressed on the issue, Smith said she’s “here today” and encouraged the moderators not to “spend a lot of time debating about debating.”
“You know, there were two debates earlier this year that my opponent was unable to attend. I assumed that she had scheduling conflicts, and I understood that, and I didn’t make a big deal out of it,” Smith added, though Housley called the attacks false, saying there were only “three agreed upon debates.”
After the debate, Smith touted her record of helping “author three bills now signed into law,” introducing “24+ of my own bills,” and cosponsoring “250 other pieces of legislation.”
I’ve been in the Senate for 10 months & I’m proud to have helped author 3 bills now signed into law, introduced 24+ of my own bills, & co-sponsored 250 other pieces of legislation. I went there to roll up my sleeves & get the job done for YOU & that’s exactly what I’m doing. pic.twitter.com/ctbvm9V2xp
— Tina Smith (@TinaSmithMN) November 2, 2018
“I went there to roll up my sleeves and get the job done for you, and that’ exactly what I’m doing,” she added in response to Republican attacks that she’s accomplished very little since taking over for Al Franken.
The two candidates are cramming in their debates in the final days of the campaign, and will participate in their final debate Sunday night hosted by MPR.
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