Ted Strickland Mum on Obama’s Plan to Bring Terrorist Detainees to the U.S.

Opponents Portman, Sittenfeld take stands

Ted Strickland
Ted Strickland / AP
February 24, 2016

Ted Strickland, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Ohio, has yet to weigh in on President Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay.

Strickland had not made a public statement as of Wednesday on Obama’s plan to close the military prison, which would involve dozens of dangerous terrorist suspects being transferred to prisons inside the United States, an action that is barred by current law. A representative for Strickland’s campaign did not respond to an inquiry on the matter.

Other candidates running for the Senate seat—including incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R.) and Cincinnati city councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, Strickland’s competitor for the Democratic nomination—have already voiced their positions on the president’s continued efforts to close the detention facility.

Strickland, a former congressman and governor of Ohio, has emphasized his commitment to national security and fighting terrorism. "When we see attacks on innocent people across the world and the increase in terrorist activity in the United States it renews our concern of what could happen here again," a page on Strickland’s campaign website reads. "Nothing is more important to me than keeping American families safe and secure."

Strickland’s silence on the issue comes one month after he promised to give a detailed speech on national security when asked to "articulate" his stance on terrorism during a public appearance at the Akron Press Club on Jan. 25.

"The first responsibility of a president or a Senate or those in political power is to try to make sure that the American people are protected and that would be my goal," Strickland told the audience, outlining his opposition to putting U.S. troops on the ground in combat operations to fight ISIS in the Middle East. "I am going to be giving a national security speech in a few weeks and I intend to go into my position on these matters in very significant detail."

He has yet to deliver the speech.

As a member of Congress, Strickland voted against expressing congressional support for the apprehension, detention, and interrogation of terrorists, including those imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

Additionally, Strickland cast votes against permitting the pre-trial detention of terrorist suspects and making it an inadmissible and deportable offense to attend a terrorist training camp or donate to a terrorist group. The former Ohio congressman also voted to strike language to make it more difficult for terrorists to gain asylum.

Strickland’s competitors were quick to weigh in on Guantanamo following Obama’s announcement.

"Because P.G. believes that our continued use of Guantanamo Bay as a prison for suspected terrorists is counterproductive—and actually helps the recruitment efforts of radical jihadi groups around the world—he supports the president’s decision to close Gitmo as a penal facility," Dale Butland, a spokesman for the Sittenfeld campaign, told the Free Beacon in a statement Wednesday.

Portman opposes the president’s plan, warning that it would "endanger the lives of American service members and threaten our national security" if enacted.

"As we have seen time and time again, upon their release, these hardened terrorists too often return to the battlefield. That puts our men and women in uniform in jeopardy. And it’s why Congress has rejected this plan on a bipartisan basis year after year," Portman said in a statement Tuesday shortly after Obama unveiled the plan.

Terrorism is poised to become a significant issue in the 2016 election in Ohio. According to a poll released by Baldwin Wallace University on Wednesday, 72 percent of Ohio voters rate terrorism as a "very important" issue affecting their decision in the presidential election. Fifty-six percent said the same about foreign policy.

The same poll found that, in a hypothetical general election matchup, Portman would beat Strickland 44 percent to 40 percent in the Senate race, though 16 percent of likely voters remain undecided.

More than one-third of Ohio voters currently hold an unfavorable view of Strickland.

The Democratic candidate has previously sidestepped issues, delaying an explanation about his reversal on gun rights and refusing to voice a position on on the Keystone XL pipeline.