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Syrian Refugee Debate a Flashpoint in Louisiana Governor's Race

by Mark Murray /
Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Sen. David Vitter, R-La., left, speaks to reporters after his debate against Democratic candidate John Bel Edwards, in Baton Rouge, La., Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Vitter's wife Wendy, right, looks on. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)Gerald Herbert / AP

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The controversial political debate on whether to accept Syrian refugees in the United States is now playing out in Louisiana’s competitive gubernatorial contest, which concludes on Saturday.

After being on the receiving end of one of the toughest TV ads in memory, Republican David Vitter is seizing on the Syrian refugee debate as part of his closing argument in the race.

“One of the Paris ISIS terrorists entered France posing as a Syrian refugee. Now Obama is sending Syria refugees to America,” says in the announcer in a new Vitter TV ad. “David Vitter warned Obama the dangers of Syrian refugees weeks ago – and promised, as governor, no Syrian refugees will enter Louisiana.”

The Vitter TV ad then pivots to Vitter’s Democratic opponent, John Bel Edwards: “John Bel Edwards has pledged to work WITH Obama to bring Syrian refugees to Louisiana.”

The Washington Post reports that, after the Paris terrorist attacks, Edwards posted a Facebook message “promising to work with ‘federal authorities’ in order to ‘both accommodate refugees who are fleeing from religious persecution and ensure that all our people are safe.’”

Edwards, who has since called for a moratorium on Syrian refugees until more is known about the vetting process, has fired back saying that Vitter – as U.S. senator – skipped key votes involving the Syrian refugee issue.

Vitter on Tuesday introduced legislation in the Senate aimed at halting Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. until stronger verification standards are in place.

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