INDIANAPOLIS — The two frontrunners for the Republican nomination in Indiana's 2018 Senate primary declined on Saturday to disavow President Trump's reported complaints about accepting immigrants from "shithole countries."
Congressmen Todd Rokita, R-4th District, and Luke Messer, R-6th District, both delivered remarks and participated in the state Republican party's Congress of Countries.
Neither of the candidates, who have engaged in sometimes-public spats over who was more representative of the president's base, declined to directly comment on or condemn remarks Trump allegedly made Thursday in the Oval Office.
"I’m not commenting on the president’s comments,” Messer said in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student.
Rokita did not directly disown the president's words when questioned about them, choosing instead to say he believed it was possible for the United States to put its own interests first while still being welcoming.
In his remarks to the attendees he said he would not be in favor of any legislative replacement to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that did not include funding for a border wall.
Messer also indicated, when asked, that he didn't believe Americans would see a DACA deal without funding for border security.
"We need to keep the president’s promise to secure our southern border," Messer said. "That’ll be a critical element of any final DACA deal."
Messer won the straw poll that took place after the remarks delivered at the close of the event with 147 votes. Rokita came in second with 82 votes, out of a total of 326 total votes. A straw poll is not necessarily indicative of actual election results.
Laurel Demkovich contributed reporting.
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