A spate of suspicious packages containing pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and CNN has injected national security into the final two weeks of the midterm elections.
Security has been beefed up around some potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, and concerns about the mail bombs addressed to former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden have risen to the top of pre-November debates in races across the country.
The investigation into the mail bombs comes as Democrats are seeking to pick up a net of 23 seats in order to win back control of the House and Republicans are defending a narrow 51-49 Senate majority.
A look at midterm campaign activities Thursday:
The University at Buffalo said it was “implementing significant security measures” for a Thursday night speech featuring former Vice President Joe Biden and “taking extra precautions because of recent targeting of political figures.” About 6,500 people were expected at the Biden speech, and a university spokesman said Alumni Arena would be subjected to a security sweep prior to the arrival of ticketed patrons. All attendees will be required to pass through metal detectors, and coats and large bags will be searched.
Two packages addressed to Biden were seized by authorities in Delaware early Thursday, suggesting a broad pattern to target prominent Democrats. The former vice president, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, has been traveling widely in recent weeks in support of Democrats running in the midterms.
Los Angeles attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents porn star Stormy Daniels and has become a prominent critic of President Donald Trump, said he had increased his security measures since the emergence of the mail bombs. Avenatti said he was having all of his mail screened “off site — all the mail directed at me and the firm.”
He added that they had taken additional precautions, but said his criticism of Trump would continue. “There’s no question I’m concerned but I’m not going to allow this conduct to dissuade me for continuing to criticize Trump and oppose him,” said Avenatti, who is considering a 2020 presidential campaign.
He characterized the additional security measures as “both procedures and personnel.”
A Republican appointed to the Senate representing Mississippi expressed a willingness to debate a Democratic challenger if the race reaches a runoff in a special election.
Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith told The Greenwood Commonwealth she thinks Mike Espy “would be very civil.”
Hyde-Smith was appointed to temporarily succeed Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who resigned in April.
Hyde-Smith has declined to debate all three challengers before the Nov. 6 special election, which includes Espy, a former agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton; Chris McDaniel, a Republican state senator; and Tobey Bernard Bartee, a Democrat who is a former military intelligence officer.
If no candidate wins a wins a majority, the top two will advance to a Nov. 27 runoff. The winner will serve the final two years of a Cochran’s six-year term.
In Florida’s gubernatorial debate on Wednesday night, Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis and Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum were asked about the bombs sent to the Democratic leaders. DeSantis condemned the actions, noting that he was at the congressional baseball practice in 2017 in which Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., was wounded by a shooter whose social media posts had suggested he targeted Republicans.
“I know firsthand that when we start going down that road, that can be very, very deadly,” DeSantis said. Gillum said he was grateful that no one had been hurt “but we’ve really seen a collapsing of our political discourse.”
This article provided by NewsEdge.