September 9, 2019/Press

“How WEAK Are You?” Papers, Voters, Analysts Blast Tillis for Letting Trump Raid $80 Million from NC Bases

Raleigh – Last week, the hammer dropped on Senator Tillis for his spineless “Olympic Gold flip flop” on the president’s emergency declaration, forcing Tillis to relive “one of the senator’s weakest moments” and earning him a fresh round of negative headlines and condemnation from around the state and the country.

Voters asked Tillis to “explain himself to the soldiers.” The Charlotte Observer editorial board blasted Tillis for “an $80 million punch to the gut” and offered a piece of advice: “when you buy political favor in exchange for your principles, the bill is always more than you thought it would be.”

The Washington Post noted “no state got hit harder than North Carolina,” writing that Tillis’ flip flop is a political “softball” and pointing out that Tillis’ empty promise last spring to advance legislation to prevent future emergency declarations “hasn’t gone anywhere.”

Cable TV was, uh, a bit more blunt… “He just stole $80 million from your state! How WEAK are you?”

Here’s a look at what voters saw about “Senator Hypocrisy (R-N.C.)”:

Charlotte Observer: Editorial: Thom Tillis’ terrible, no good and totally predictable bad day
By the Editorial Board
September 6, 2019

Key Points:

  • The trouble began — as trouble often does — with a tweet. It ended with an $80 million punch to the gut and a lesson that Thom Tillis never seems to learn.
  • Then his day got worse. Late in the afternoon, news broke that $80 million worth of construction projects at North Carolina military bases were being cut to shift funds to building the president’s wall on the Mexican border. The total includes $40 million for a new battalion complex and ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune, as well as a planned elementary school to serve families at Fort Bragg. The $80 million in N.C. cuts were more than in any other state with a GOP senator facing reelection in 2020.
  • Trump’s wall already was the source of one of the senator’s weakest moments. As N.C. voters surely remember, Tillis announced in February that he would vote against the president’s effort to circumvent Congress and pay for the wall by declaring a national emergency at the southern border. Three weeks later, he backed down and gave his blessing and vote to the president’s overreach.
  • Now that decision will doubly haunt him.
  • The lessons here? There are at least a couple. First, don’t trust this president. Donald Trump will not hesitate to burn anyone — including people who’ve previously helped him — to get a political victory. And also — when you buy political favor in exchange for your principles, the bill is always more than you thought it would be.

News & Observer: LTE: NC military will now pay the price for Tillis’ support of Trump’s border wall

  • Regarding “Fort Bragg among N.C. military bases to take $80M hit to fund Trump’s border wall,” (Sept. 4)
  • I’d like Sen. Thom Tillis to explain himself to the soldiers. He lost $80 million in planned military construction dollars to the border wall that was supposed to paid for by Mexico.
  • If he is not ashamed of himself, he should know that the people of North Carolina are ashamed and embarrassed by his lack or representation.

MSNBC: Morning Joe on “GOP Senators Whose State Will Lose Money to Trump’s Wall”
September 5, 2019

Key Points:

  • “I would like to be running against Thom Tillis in North Carolina, either in the Republican primary or against him in the fall, and please explain to me, Senator Tillis, why you allowed $80 million to be diverted from people who really serve our country.”
  • “John Cornyn said it wasn’t worth it, Lindsey Graham said it wasn’t worth it. So he stole money from their states and they couldn’t stop him. They were too weak to stop him.”
  • “Thom Tillis… he just stole $80 million from your state! How weak are you?”
  • “This has obviously political implications with Thom Tillis in North Carolina, which is not exactly a rock-solid Republican state. And then you have Cory Gardner, not exactly a rock-solid state. And you know, you put those two seats at risk.”
  • “It’s not just about jobs in the state of North Carolina, or the state of Texas, or the state of Colorado… it’s about the defense of this country.”

Washington Post: The Trailer: Republican senators and the disappearing military money
By Dave Weigel
September 5, 2019

Key Points:

  • In March, shortly after denouncing the president’s decision to declare a border emergency as a way to reallocate money not appropriated for the border wall, GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina voted to support it. The president had won him over, he said, by promising some progress on legislation to “prevent a future left-wing president from misusing their authority.”
  • That legislation hasn’t gone anywhere, and Tillis — like five other Republicans who voted to support the declaration — are facing questions about the money being pulled out of their states to build the border wall. No state got hit harder than North Carolina, where $80 millionappropriated for improvements at military bases will be sent to build the wall. That has gotten Tillis mocked by any number of his critics and Democratic opponents.
  • “Don’t trust this president,” the Charlotte Observer’s editorial board wrote. “Donald Trump will not hesitate to burn anyone — including people who’ve previously helped him — to get a political victory.”
  • The emergency declaration, which polled poorly before any money was moved around, is now causing trouble for swing-state senators. It’s a softball any Democrat can throw: Their opponents trusted the president, and their reward was getting money pulled away from local military projects.

Wall Street Journal: Republicans Feel the Heat of Trump’s Military Fund Shifts
By Andrew Duehren
September 5, 2019

Key Points:

  • President Trump’s emergency declaration to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is once again creating political problems for vulnerable Senate Republicans.
  • Several of the projects are in states with Republican senators facing competitive re-election races in 2020—opening up a fresh line of attack for Democrats.
  • Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina are among the 23 states that will see military projects defunded under the move. Sens. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.), Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), and Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) each supported Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration, and they are each up for re-election this year in the closely contested swing states.
  • The development underscores the political difficulty Mr. Trump’s border wall—and his quest to build it—poses for vulnerable Republicans. Breaking from the president on his signature policy proposal is tantamount to treason for the Republican base, while supporting it only bolsters Democratic efforts to paint the Republicans as feckless sycophants.
  • Mr. Tillis’s initial effort to buck the president on the emergency declaration for the wall quickly collapsed after broad opposition from Republicans in his state. While he reversed himself and ultimately came out in support of the emergency declaration, the skepticism was costly, spurring primary challengers to enter the race.
  • Continued drama over the border—which is inevitable because of the looming spending fights this fall—will only compound the political challenges for Senate Republicans.

CNBC: Trump’s move to put $3.6 billion in military funding toward the border wall could hurt GOP senators
By Jacob Pramuk
September 6, 2019

  • President Donald Trump’s move to divert $3.6 billion from military projects toward funding his border wall has added another obstacle for some of the Senate’s most endangered Republicans.
  • The White House plans to pull smaller chunks of funding from states such as Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina. And that could affect the fight for the Senate in 2020. GOP Sens. Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, already facing competitive reelection bids, will have to defend their votes not to stop Trump from diverting military funds.
  • A dozen Senate Republicans — and only one in Maine’s Susan Collins who faces a competitive reelection — joined Democrats in opposing the emergency. McSally, Gardner and Tillis all backed the president’s declaration.
  • The Democrats running in the primary to challenge Tillis piled on the senator over the pulled funding. Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham argued Tillis “caved to partisan pressure in Washington and put his own self-serving politics ahead of what’s best for our security.”
  • Erica Smith, a Democratic North Carolina state senator, tweeted Thursday that bases “will be cheated out of” money. She asked Tillis to explain why the defense money “will now fund the president’s vanity project.”
  • Still, he could face political backlash as the Trump administration will transfer a major chunk of change out of the state: $80 million from three sites. More than $32 million of the sum, funds to replace an elementary school at Fort Bragg, was previously canceled.

Bloomberg News: Shift of Military Funds to Border Wall Hits States Across U.S.
By Steven T. Dennis
September 4, 2019

Key Points:

  • A handful of Republican senators seeking re-election next year are facing cuts in their states, including Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who penned a Washington Post op-ed to oppose Trump’s emergency declaration, only to later flip and vote with Trump in March. Among the deferrals in his state are projects at Camp Lejeune, one of the state’s major employers.

The Hill: Hurricane-hit bases among those losing funds to Trump wall
By Ellen Mitchell
September 4, 2019

Key Points:

  • The list includes projects in states represented by Republican senators who voted in support of Trump’s emergency declaration.
  • Those include Thom Tillis (N.C.), whose state has three projects on the list worth a combined $80 million; Sen. Martha McSally (Ariz.), with one $30 million project at Fort Huachuca; Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), whose state had a planned nearly $63 million middle school at Fort Campbell; Cory Gardner (Co.), with an $8 million project at Peterson Air Force Base; Lindsey Graham (S.C.), whose state had a planned fire station replacement for $11 million; and John Cornyn (Texas), whose state had two projects worth $48 million that will now be deferred.
  • All six lawmakers are up for reelection in 2020.