In a recent ad, Kansas Democrat Sharice Davids, a candidate for a U.S. House seat, looks into the camera and declares: “I don't support abolishing ICE.”
Trouble is, just a few weeks ago, when asked if she supported abolishing ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), her answer was the complete opposite.
"I do. I would, I would," she said in a July 21 podcast.
Davids gained national attention after winning the state’s crowded Democratic primary Aug. 7. The openly gay Native American candidate will now face Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in November’s general election for the chance to represent a suburban Kansas City district.
Davids’ recent ad was a response to an earlier ad from a Republican super PAC that included the portion of the July podcast in which she said she supported abolishing ICE.
The position has become 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 illegal immigrants.
But Republicans and many moderate Democrats say that abolishing it is a step too far.
Davids’ turnaround on the issue began when the Kansas City Star first reported on the podcast two weeks ago. Since then, Davids has told 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.