Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate says challengers must be ‘pretty worried’ after latest ‘smearing’ attempt

FIRST ON FOX: Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate Eric Hovde is pushing back against one progressive outlet’s attempt at “smearing” his newly launched campaign, insisting that his challengers must be “pretty worried” after targeting him and the charity he operates to help victims of human trafficking.Shortly after Hovde spoke to supporters, Heartland Signal, which is described online as a “regional digital newsroom anchored to the progressive radio station WCPT 820AM in Chicago,” shared a clip on social media that appeared to twist Hovde’s claim that he understands child trafficking issues in Central America because “he owns” homes in the region.”Announcing his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin, Republican Eric Hovde says he understands the tragedy of children being trafficked through Central America because he owns three homes there,” the outlet wrote in a post on X.In a follow-up tweet posted roughly two hours later, Heartland Signal wrote, “While not mentioned in his speech, Hovde appears to be referring to his charitable foundation, Hovde Homes.”REPUBLICAN ERIC HOVDE SEEKS TO FLIP DEMOCRAT BALDWIN’S SEAT RED IN WISCONSIN SENATE RACEDespite the outlet’s initial claim, Hovde made clear to Fox News Digital that the video actually showed him acknowledging the human trafficking issues in Central America by referencing his charity’s three homes that are located in the region.”I knew when I got into this race that Senator Baldwin and her allies would lie about me. And that the more worried they got, the bigger the lies would be,” Hovde told Fox News Digital. “Well they must be pretty worried because they started the campaign by smearing the charity my brother and I run to get children out of human trafficking.”He added, “Protecting the most vulnerable and ending human trafficking should be something we can all find agreement on. They can play the politics of personal destruction. I’ll focus on restoring the American Dream.”The clip, which has received upwards of 1.5 million views, was met with a flurry of criticism from conservatives who called out the “fake news” outlet for twisting Hovde’s words. Additionally, X users quickly added context to the post, triggering a fact check from X’s Community Notes.In the clip shared by Heartland Signal, in which Hovde was discussing immigration, the Wisconsin Republican said, “Do you know how many lives are lost on that journey to get here? Do you know how many people’s life savings have been wiped out by the human trafficking cartels? And they’ve lost 100,000 children that they can’t account for.”He continued in the clip, “Let me assure you, more than a few of them have ended up being sexually trafficked. I know this all too well. … My brother and I have homes all over the world and we have three in Central America that deal with issues like this.”Speaking out against the “misinformation machine,” National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) spokesman Tate Mitchell suggested that “Baldwin and her allies” are “terrified” of running against Hovde.”Tammy Baldwin and her allies were quick to weaponize the far-left misinformation machine against Eric Hovde over his foundation’s work to support victims of human trafficking,” Mitchell said in a statement. “Clearly, Democrats are terrified to run against a conservative outsider and successful businessman like Eric Hovde.”WISCONSIN LAWMAKERS VOTE ON TAX CUTS, VETO POWERS AND HUNTING FEES IN FINAL SESSION PUSHHovde formally launched his bid for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., on Tuesday, saying that “America is slipping away” and “everything is going in the wrong direction.”This is Hovde’s second Senate campaign; he ran in 2012 but lost in the GOP primary to former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Baldwin went on to win election that year and is now seeking a third term in the battleground state of Wisconsin.Reelecting Baldwin to a third term is critical for Democratic hopes to maintain majority control of the Senate. Democrats are defending 23 seats in the Senate in November, including two held by independents who caucus with Democrats. That’s compared with just 11 seats that Republicans hope to keep in their column.Baldwin’s campaign branded Hovde as “an out-of-touch megamillionaire” in a fundraising email sent minutes after his campaign website went live. Baldwin’s campaign said Hovde would “rubber stamp” the agenda of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.”Hovde would vote to pass a national abortion ban, raise taxes on working families and seniors while cutting Social Security and Medicare, and repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesperson Arik Wolk said separately.Wisconsin’s primary election is slated to take place on Aug. 13.The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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