TOPEKA, Kan. — Democrat Sharice Davids looks directly into the camera in a recent ad for her campaign in a competitive Kansas congressional district and declares: "I don't support abolishing ICE."
She's responding to an earlier ad from a Republican super PAC that plays a brief part of an interview in July in which she says the exact opposite.
Abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been a rallying cry for some on the political left, who accuse the agency of using heavy-handed tactics under President Donald Trump in rounding up immigrants living in the country illegally. But Republicans and many moderate Democrats say that abolishing it is a step too far.
Davids scored a surprising victory in a crowded Democratic primary on Aug. 7 and will face Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in November in a Kansas City suburban district. She has gained national attention for her unusual resume as an LGBT and Native American lawyer and mixed-martial arts fighter. Her website shows a video of her kickboxing at a gym.
A look at her response ad:
DAVIDS AD: "You probably saw an ad from Kevin Yoder's special interest friends, twisting my words. Well, they're wrong. I don't support abolishing ICE. I do support bipartisan immigration reform, with strong borders and a pathway to citizenship, especially for those who serve in our military," she says in the ad, which has been running on television in the Kansas City market in the last week.
THE FACTS: Republicans aren't twisting her words but citing what she said during a July 21 podcast. When she was asked directly whether she supported abolishing ICE, Davids responded: "I do. I would, I would."
Since The Kansas City Star first reported on the podcast two weeks ago, Davids has said in statements to news organizations, including The Associated Press on Wednesday, that she does not support abolishing ICE but favors comprehensive immigration reform.
Asked to explain the contradiction between the podcast and her new ad, the Davids campaign said the ad was consistent with her views before she won the primary. As an example, the campaign pointed to comments she made in a June interview with The Star's editorial board, but the specific issue of abolishing ICE did not arise in that interview. Instead, she spoke in broader terms about her belief that talking about all immigrants as a national security risk dehumanizes them.
The July 21 podcast interview cited by Republicans was part of the Millennial Politics Podcast, sponsored by GCK Consulting, a Democratic-leaning, Washington, D.C., firm that helps elect millennial candidates. The host was Jordan Valerie Allen, the podcast's politics editor and communications director for Run With Pride, a PAC working to elect LGBT candidates. It endorsed Davids.
During part of the podcast, Davids discusses her concerns about having ICE handle immigration issues "in terms of policing," which she said was the wrong framework.
Nearly 33 minutes into the interview, Allen asked: "And just to clarify, you do support abolishing ICE?"
Davids answered: "I do. I would, I would."
The Washington Post later reported that Davids said she had never endorsed abolishing ICE and had "stammered briefly" in answering the question.
But in the podcast, Davids then mentioned defunding ICE, which she says is "essentially the same thing" as abolishing the agency.
A look at the veracity of claims by political figurres