Michigan Republicans spar in 2nd gubernatorial debate

DETROIT (AP) — Republicans running for Michigan governor on Thursday welcomed President Donald Trump’s decision to halt his policy of separating migrant children from parents detained at the border and avoided criticizing him for imposing steel and aluminum tariffs that the home-state auto industry fears could hurt business and has sparked retaliatory Chinese tariffs affecting farmers.

In their second and final televised debate, the four candidates also said the state’s deteriorating roads can be improved without raising taxes and that gun control is not needed in the wake of another mass shooting — this time at a Maryland newspaper. State Attorney General Bill Schuette, who touted his endorsement from Trump in the hourlong debate, has led polling ahead of the August primary that also features Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines.

“We’ve been in a trade war with China for a long time, and we’ve been losing. What President Trump is trying to do is rebalance efforts,” Schuette said. Colbeck and Hines supported Trump’s trade actions, while Calley said he hoped the tactics were part of a “negotiation” because “we can’t have a case where the international markets that our products are being sold in all over the world end up getting closed off to our companies.”

More than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in recent weeks and placed in government-contracted shelters — hundreds of miles away, in some cases — under a zero-tolerance policy toward families caught illegally entering the U.S. Many are from drug- and violence-wracked Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Asked if he supported the transfer of children to Michigan to be housed, Schuette said “we shouldn’t separate families” and added that he was “so glad President Trump changed that.” Calley said “we need to secure the border and we can even build a wall, but separating out parents from their kids — that’s just not who we are.”

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