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Leading Sen. Donnelly challengers discuss campaign

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The two Republican congressmen looking to unseat Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly in 2018 stopped by ABC57 on Thursday to talk about their campaigns.

“What voters and taxpayers want is someone who’s going to fight for them,” said Representative Todd Rokita, a Republican who represents Indiana’s 4th District, who is running for Donnelly’s seat in the U.S. Senate. “They’re tired of the establishment. That’s one of the reasons we have Donald Trump, who I think is doing a great job. But we need more. We need reinforcements.”

“I think most Hoosiers understand, they want a U.S. Senator that’s going to vote with them 100 percent of the time,” said Representative Luke Messer, a Republican who represents the state’s 6th District, who is also running for Donnelly’s seat. “They’re frustrated by much of what they’ve seen in Washington and the inability to get the Trump agenda done.”

The two Republicans are both Donald Trump supporters and both are looking to beat Donnelly, who is Indiana’s lone Democrat in Washington.

Messer and Rokita said they both want to see Obamacare tossed away.

“We have to change it,” said Rokita, who is a former Indiana Secretary of State. “And we have to repeal it. We have to replace it with something better. But we have got to stop it from hurting people, because it is. It’s a failed experiment in liberal socialism.”

“We need to continue to work on repealing Obamacare because Hoosier middle class families need relief from Obamacare,” said Messer, who is a former Indiana state representative.

The two men also spoke similarly about tax reform.

They each back President Trump’s plan to cut the corporate tax rate, but they insist the middle class is priority.

“I’m focused on middle class tax cuts and we need a tax package that delivers that now,
 Messer said. “But also, we need to grow the economy. And the best way to have good paying jobs is to have a positive climate for job creators.”

“What I want to do is focus on the forgotten person – the middle class person who’s getting hammered over the last 8 to 10, maybe even longer, years because of a terrible tax code that benefits, again, the elites,” Rokita said.

And on President Trump’s decision to end DACA, the congressmen offered nearly identical responses.

“No one has a right to be in America illegally,” Messer said. “You don’t have a right to violate our laws to come here.”

“You can argue through no fault of their own, but it was the fault of somebody,” Rokita said. “It was the fault of their parents who brought them who know what they’re doing – it’s causing chain migration. And that’s unfair to the people who came here the right way.”

Both men said they’d consider supporting legislation that would allow DACA recipients currently in the U.S. to stay here, but only if broader immigration laws were enforced first.

Rokita and Messer were also asked about President Trump’s ongoing response to the ambush in Niger that killed four American soldiers; plus the President’s handling of talking with the soldiers’ families.

Both said they don’t think a clear story has emerged yet that outlines what exactly has happened. And both said they think President Trump supports our troops.

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