ANGOLA — U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun told KPC Media Group on Saturday he has pulled his controversial campaign ad about illegal immigration that used the name and photo of a killed Uber driver without the family’s permission.
The ad focused on an alleged drunken driver who killed Jeffrey Monroe and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and how the country needed to strengthen its borders to protect the country from people like Manuel Orrego-Savala, a Guatemalan who has twice been deported from the U.S. and was in the country illegally when his car struck the pair who were on the side of a highway on Feb. 4.
“There was no anticipation that there would be such a negative reaction on the part of the widow,” Braun said, adding that most people thought the ad was a strong message about illegal immigration and border security.
Braun admitted that sometimes you get things wrong, you learn a lesson and move on.
“You’re not going to get everything right,” he said.
On Feb. 22 Deborah Monroe said she had called on the Braun campaign to pull the ad, the Indianapolis Star reported. The story ended up getting picked up by many major news outlets, including the Washington Post.
The ad, which started running Feb. 20, stirred much conversation in Indiana as people watch a heated, three-way campaign for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Braun and U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita are battling for the nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly in the General Election.
“Here illegally, Manuel Orrego-Savala was deported twice, and had multiple convictions and arrests,” Braun says to the camera. “Drunk, he hit and killed Jeffrey Monroe and Colts Linebacker Edwin Jackson. It was a senseless tragedy, and it never should have happened. Politicians in Washington have ignored this issue for far too long. We must build the wall, ban sanctuary cities, and put an end to chain migration. There are lives at stake.”
In a column that runs today on Page B6 of this newspaper, columnist Brian Howey writes, “Monroe’s widow was incensed by the ad, but it is conspicuous, created headlines and will play well to some primary voters.”
Meanwhile, Braun brought his conservative message to Steuben County on Saturday, speaking before the monthly breakfast meeting of the Steuben County Republican Party.
Braun tried to paint himself as the outsider and the adult in the room compared to his challengers whom he characterized as career politicians.
“Who do you think is going to beat Joe Donnelly, two guys who look like him,” Braun asked of the crowded Timbers Steakhouse & Seafood banquet room.
Braun was tough on Rokita at times, and said his experience in private business has better equipped him for the job of senator.
“I’ve had to out maneuver guys a lot quicker than he is,” Braun said of Rokita.
State Rep. Denny Zent, R-Angola, mentioned that Messer doesn’t even know of the Indiana that exists north of Fort Wayne.
Steuben Republican Vice Chair Mary Martin reminded those present that no matter who wins the primary, the party needs to get behind its candidate in the fall election.
Braun allied himself with President Donald Trump. While he said Trump has been disruptive, Braun seemed to lay the blame for Trump’s chaotic White House on a media that’s he said was focused on making sure the president doesn’t succeed.
Braun likened himself to Trump, an outsider who will do things differently if he’s elected to the Senate.
“I could be doing a lot of other things (than running for Senate),” Braun said.
He said if 10 guys like himself were elected, it would make a difference in changing the culture in Washington.
He credited Trump and the Republican majorities in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House with passing tax legislation that will benefit the country and credited the Trump administration for leading the way.
“If (Trump) had not come along, we were heading down the road to a calamity,” Braun said, adding that the path of the Democrats, “they’re taking us down to the road to ruin.”
In answering a question about dealing with the 11 million Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigrants — children brought to the U.S. by illegal immigrants — Braun largely deferred to his belief that the U.S. needed stronger border security, including building at least a partial wall along the border with Mexico.
“It’s a mess. It’s going to take a lot to unravel but we first must secure the border,” Braun said, not specifically dealing with the question.
Braun also hit on his key talking points that he favors complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), he wants to stop job-killing regulations, he is against abortion, he wants to restore America’s place as a leader in the world and that tax reform was right for the country.
Braun will be back in Steuben County on April 3 for the Steuben County Republican Lincoln Day celebration at Glendarin Hills Golf Club. Rokita is also a confirmed guest. Speaker for the evening is Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer.
On Friday Braun met with leaders in DeKalb County before heading to Angola for a grilling at a community table at McCool’s Tap Room in downtown Angola and dinner at Captain’s Cabin at Crooked Lake. Following the GOP breakfast Braun took a quick driving tour of Trine University’s campus before heading out.