Governor Mike DeWine, on re-election mode, travels to Texas to meet with National Guard troops, talk about border security
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Governor Mike DeWine is on a two-day trip to the US-Mexico border to call attention to border security, a red meat issue for Tory voters he needs to win the Republican primary in next year.
During a visit to South Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday, the governor met with Ohio National Guard troops and joined a press conference with other governors calling on the Biden administration to draw up a list of changes to its immigration policies. But, typically, DeWine let other governors directly attack President Joe Biden over the matter and let his presence by their side show where he stood.
DeWine is seen as the frontrunner to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination next year, though he faces challenges to his right from former US Rep Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and the area farmer Columbus Joe Blystone.
The governor has faced stiff criticism from conservatives unhappy with his coronavirus policy – including fellow Republican in the state legislature, who have regularly undermined him, even tried to impeach him. Even ex-President Donald Trump took a hit on DeWine, tweeting last November that his re-election campaign will be “hotly contested.” There has also been internal unrest within the Ohio Republican Party over whether the state party should support DeWine in the primaries.
DeWine met with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and eight other Republican governors near the border on Wednesday to discuss a continuing increase in migrant crossings and to issue a list of political ideas to solve the problem. DeWine was also one of 26 GOP governors who wrote to Biden last month requesting a White House meeting “to end the national security crisis created by eight months of unenforced borders.”
But while several governors spoke out against the Biden administration on Wednesday in a press conference afterwards, DeWine spoke only briefly – not about Biden, but about how opioids imported across the border. lead to overdose deaths in Ohio.
“This crisis on the southern border is a humanitarian crisis,” said the governor. “It’s also a drug crisis – it’s a fentanyl crisis.”
DeWine often used a similar tactic when he disagreed with the actions taken by Trump in power – criticizing the policy without attacking – or even mentioning by name – the person behind it.
On Tuesday, Governor and First Lady Fran DeWine were featured in a live Facebook video along the Rio Grande River near McAllen on Tuesday. The governor barely addressed border security concerns during the video, instead focusing on his meeting with the Ohio National Guard troops he sent to assist federal agents in patrolling the US-Mexico border.
For about a year, 113 members of the Ohio National Guard were deployed to Texas to provide additional support to U.S. customs and border protection. Speaking alongside DeWine in the video, Ohio Adjutant General John C. Harris said Ohio troops had not been directly involved in law enforcement actions, but had instead assisted federal authorities in tasks including vehicle maintenance, administrative tasks and “early detection” efforts.
National Guard troops were sent to Texas at the request of the Defense Department under the administration of former President Donald Trump, Tierney said. DeWine has previously said the troops currently serving there will be replaced with new members of the National Guard later this year, as requested by the Biden administration.
“This is an area of bipartisan agreement that we obviously have to grapple with – the humanitarian border crisis and, in general, aid to the border security mission,” Tierney said on Tuesday.
During his video, DeWine highlighted how the fentanyl that causes overdose deaths in Ohio comes from China via the US-Mexico border. He said he appreciated the sacrifice made by the Ohio National Guard troops serving along the border, as well as their families.
“A whole year is a very, very long time,” DeWine said.
Last July, DeWine also sent 14 Ohio Highway Patrol soldiers to the southern border to help Texas authorities monitor the borders, following high-profile announcements from Republican governors. Kristi Noem from South Dakota and Ron DeSantis from Florida that they would send troops to border states.
The Ohio soldiers have all returned home since then, Tierney said Tuesday.