GOP Senate candidates dodge on Trump's plan to end birthright citizenship

GOP Senate candidates dodge on Trump's plan to end birthright citizenship
© Stefani Reynolds
Republican candidates in several key Senate races are keeping their distance from President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE's pledge to end birthright citizenship by executive order, even as he's doubled down on the issue in the final week of the midterm election.
 
GOP Senate candidates say they share Trump's frustration with the broader immigration system while generally dodging on specifics about changing birthright citizenship, a concept based on the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
 
 
But when asked on local radio station KTAR if she agreed with Trump about ending birthright citizenship and using an executive order to do it, she demurred.
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"In this case, if we secured our border, if we strengthened our immigration laws, if we closed the loopholes that are being taken advantage of right now we wouldn't even have this conversation," she said.
  
Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R-Nev.), when asked if he supported ending birthright citizenship and if he thought Trump could use an executive order to do it, similarly emphasized taking broader action on immigration.
 
“This issue is a symptom of the larger problems we are facing. The reason we keep having this immigration discussion is because we have not passed immigration reform," Heller said in a statement sent to The Hill.
 
Heller instead attempted to put blame on Democrats for Congress's inability to pass immigration or border security legislation, saying he understands "the president’s frustration on immigration and border security because I am frustrated too.”
 
Trump this week reignited a fight over birthright citizenship as he leans into hardline immigration rhetoric in an attempt to drive out his base voters ahead of the midterm election on Tuesday, when control of Congress hangs in the balance.
 
The president raised the issue in interview with Axios that was released Tuesday, saying he believes he could nix birthright citizenship with an executive order. 
 
"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump said. "You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."
 
Legal experts have said using an executive order to limit birthright citizenship to children of U.S. citizens and legal resident runs afoul of the 14th Amendment, which says “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
 
Some vulnerable House incumbents, as well as Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas MORE (R-Wis.), broke from Trump on the issue this week. Trump responded by lashing out at Ryan on Wednesday, writing on Twitter that Ryan "should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!” 
 
Though the fight for the House includes Republican running in more moderate or blue districts, the battle for the Senate is largely taking place in red states won by Trump in 2016. And GOP Senate candidates have been less likely to break with Trump, whose base they will need if they want to win next week. 
 
Democrats are defending 10 Senate seats in a state won by Trump in 2016. In several of those races, GOP candidates have either been silent, noncommittal or sidestepped questions about whether Trump can end birthright citizenship or if they would support a proposal halting it.
 
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) walked away from a reporter's question on Tuesday when asked about birthright citizenship, though an aide said he didn't hear the question. Scott said in a separate statement that he would need to review the proposal. 
 
“I believe legal immigration makes us a better and stronger country, but illegal immigration does the opposite. I have not seen the details of what the president is suggesting," he said.
 
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-Mo.), told the Kansas City Star that "of course" the president couldn't change the constitution with an executive order, but that he hadn't seen Trump's proposal. 
 
Hawley didn't directly say during a separate conference call with reporters on Wednesday if he supports ending birthright citizenship, but said it could "maybe" be done by executive order, according to The Washington Examiner
 
And Mike Braun, the GOP Senate candidate in Indiana, said during a debate against Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D-Ind.) on Tuesday that birthright citizenship and other issues "have accumulated over a long period of time." 
 
"If Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions Trump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Trump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition MORE’s introducing it, it will be something I take a look at," Braun said when asked if he would vote to end birthright citizenship.
 
Neither Attorney General Patrick Morrisey nor Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerPrimary challenges show potential cracks in Trump's GOP Castro, Steyer join pledge opposing the Keystone XL pipeline EPA proposes rolling back states' authority over pipeline projects MORE, the Republican Senate candidates in West Virginia and North Dakota, respectively, have weighed in on Trump's citizenship rhetoric. 
 
 
 
"I think the 14th Amendment is where it stands," Blackburn told the Nashville Tennessean