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The race for Missouri’s U.S. senate seat is heating up between incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt and Secretary of State Jason Kander.
Blunt said Kander supports President Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. military prison in Cuba housing suspected terrorists, and transfer prisoners to mainland prisons. Blunt tweeted out a petition against the plan 11 times on his campaign account between April 18 and April 20.
The petition says, "Jason Kander supports his plan to bring the remaining suspected terrorists to U.S. soil. Tell national Democrats and Jason Kander that bringing suspected terrorists to U.S. soil puts Missouri families at risk."
This statement piqued our interest, because Kander made headlines in February for coming out against this plan. So we decided to look into the claim.
Obama has tried to close Gitmo ever since he took office in 2009.
The Missouri House passed a resolution later that year that opposed the closure. It urged Congress to "reject any act of asylum, containment, transport, imprisonment, or medical care in regard to suspected terrorists from any United States operated foreign prison present within the State of Missouri."
Kander, who was serving as a state representative at the time, voted against this resolution.
At the end of February of this year, the White House again released a plan for closing the detention center. Part of the plan includes transferring detainees who cannot be released in foreign countries to a U.S. prison facility.
One of the proposed facilities is a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, which sits a few miles from the Kansas-Missouri border.
Kander released a statement opposing this plan after it was announced by the president.
"Our focus right now needs to be defeating ISIS, and we can’t risk the possibility that the terrorists housed at Guantanamo could rejoin the battlefield," said Kander. "These dangerous prisoners should not be transferred to the United States, and I strongly urge President Obama to reconsider this plan."
His spokesman Chris Hayden said Kander has never supported legislation on the federal level to close Gitmo and has opposed executive action.
"He did not think that a non-binding resolution in the Missouri legislature was the best way to keep us safe from terrorists," Hayden said.
Blunt has accused Kander of flip-flopping on the issue.
Tate O’Connor, spokesperson for Blunt’s campaign said, "Jason Kander may wish to un-ring the bell, but he cannot."
He said Kander is only trying to appeal to Missouri’s popular vote by opposing Obama’s plan.
But Kander never officially stated his position on closing Gitmo until February. Even the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which seeks to get Republicans elected to the Senate, released a video last November saying the committee couldn’t find his stance on bringing the prisoners to the U.S.
Blunt is going against the message from his fellow Republicans when he says Kander supported Obama’s plan in the past.
Blunt says Kander supports Obama’s plan to bring the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. Kander voted against a 2009 resolution in the Missouri legislature that called on Congress to keep the facility open. But that doesn’t mean he supported Obama’s plan to close the prison.
He took no official position until February, and even the National Republican Senatorial Committee said they weren’t sure where he stood before then.
We rate this statement as False.
Sen. Roy Blunt, petition against closing Gitmo, accessed April 18, 2016
Missouri House, Concurrent Resolution No. 16, May 2009
Jason Kander campaign, Jason Kander’s statement on the proposed plan to close Guantanamo Bay, February 23, 2016, accessed April 27, 2016
St. Louis Post Dispatch, Missouri Senate candidate Kander breaks with Obama over Guantanamo Bay Closure, February 23, 2016, accessed April 18, 2016
Republican National Senatorial Committee, Kander Questions, November 16, 2015, accessed May 2, 2016.
Phone interview, Kander spokesman Chris Hayden, April 20, 2016
Email interview, Blunt spokesman Tate O’Connor, April 25, 2016
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