Rokita Flips, Will Participate In Debate Commission GOP Primary Debate

Apr 17, 2018

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg) reversed a previous decision, announcing Tuesday he will participate in a Senate GOP primary debate organized by the nonpartisan Indiana Debate Commission.

The Indiana Debate Commission announced last month Rokita declined to participate in its GOP primary debate. He was the first candidate in the commission’s 10-year history to skip one.

But now, Rokita’s campaign says it will take part. In a statement, campaign spokesperson Nathan Brand says Rokita’s presence will act as a “check” on his opponents – fellow Rep. Luke Messer (R-Greensburg) and former state lawmaker Mike Braun – and on the debate’s moderator, conservative commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz.

The Republican congressman’s campaign sharply criticizes Shabazz, arguing he’s anti-Trump. The debate moderator has said he is not a Trump supporter. The Rokita camp also says Shabazz, a black Muslim, made a false racism claim against Rokita. That came after Shabazz criticized the campaign for sending a white staffer in a Barack Obama mask to mock Braun.