Fact Squad: GOP uses Haley Stevens’ words against her in new TV ad

Haley Stevens ad

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, a first-term Democrat from Rochester Hills, is the target of a television ad this week that accuses her of failing to provide “calm leadership” amid a national crisis.

The 30-second ad is funded by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that helps elect Republicans to Congress. The jarring clip consists almost entirely of a speech Stevens gave on the House floor, shouting, jabbing her fingers and declaring “you will see darkness.”

The ad, which ends by calling Stevens “just embarrassing,” is tough to fact check because it provides zero context and much of the congresswoman’s speech is difficult to comprehend.

The Claim

Stevens flipped the 11th House District, which includes parts of Wayne and Oakland counties, from Republicans in 2018 and seeks re-election against Republican Eric Esshaki, a former nursing home worker.

“This year, America needed calm leadership. Instead, Michigan got Haley Stevens,” the narrator says as the ad shows her wearing pink gloves and shouting on the House floor.

What Stevens says is largely unintelligible, as only words can be made out here and there, such as “not for personal attention,” which the narrator says “but it was.”

The Facts

Stevens gave the speech on March 27, the day after the nation eclipsed 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 and as the House debated a $2 trillion relief package for workers and businesses.

Media accounts at the time stated each representative was allotted 1 minute to speak, but Stevens “refused to yield” after her time ran out. After another member of Congress yielded her more time, she continued to speak and was ruled out of order.

Stevens later used an image from the session in a fundraising appeal, which prompted an ethics complaint from a conservative watchdog group and promise from her campaign that the issue wouldn’t recur.

 

Although much of what Stevens said is hard to discern, her congressional office released the speech she rushed to complete. It calls for the nation to “listen to the scientists and doctors” and for Congress to protect schoolchildren, small business owners and medical workers.

The line highlighted in the ad — “you will see darkness” — refers to medical workers, whom Stevens praises for “countless valiant acts.” Stevens said she wore pink gloves on the House floor in tribute to them.

“You will see darkness. You will be pushed. And know, our society needs you and stands by you at this time. Our country loves you,” the full portion of the speech reads.

The Congressional Leadership Fund did not respond to messages from Bridge Michigan seeking comment about the ad, but has aired another ad claiming Stevens is “way out there.” Republicans have claimed she “lacks the temperament” for office, also criticizing her for shouting during a town hall forum on gun violence in October.

Asked for comment by Bridge, Stevens campaign spokesperson Blake McCarren said “throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Rep. Stevens has been a tireless fighter on behalf of frontline workers, small businesses, and working families in Michigan's 11th District.”

The Conclusion

No doubt, Stevens broke the norms of Congress. Whether that’s passion or something else is purely subjective.

But the ad lacks context, leaving voters to guess about the nature of the speech or why Stevens might be so animated. Six months after the speech, 200,000 have died of the coronavirus in the United States.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Comments

butch krumenaker
Fri, 10/02/2020 - 10:40am

As with all political ads, honesty does not rule. How many people see ads that promise a State candidate will bring "better jobs and higher wages", or how a State candidate will change immigration laws, or how a State candidate will come after your social security! Both parties really think that the "average" voter is a moron. Please do the home work and vote for the candidate that cares for your community, and not the wishes of the "party". Remember, WE THE PEOPLE know what is best, not the whores of the two party system with which we are constantly shown!

Lyn Wisdom
Fri, 10/02/2020 - 10:45am

Criticizing Rep. Stevens for mimicking Mr. Trump is laughable.

VOTE!
Fri, 10/02/2020 - 3:32pm

Luckily most people see through this BS. I'd rather have Stevens someone who passionately cares about her constituents than donothing legislative Trump bootlickers who enable him to completely destroy our country, from disease to the end of democracy.

Shirley Cortez
Fri, 10/02/2020 - 3:35pm

She was so right. We are seeing darkness. Why didn't Trump heed her calls to action? There are so many bipartisan bills that passed the house and died in the senate. The GOP should have impeached Trump, but the GOP likes chaos and wants the US to be another Somalia.

Tucker
Fri, 10/02/2020 - 6:12pm

I think we should've focused on the fact that this package was allowed to pass by voice vote. If grocery workers, bus drivers, doctors, nurses, etc were treated as essential workers, why weren't members of congress? Why did some get to hang out at home when they should've been in Washington doing their jobs?
Anyways, I actually watched many of the speeches and I would not considered Rep Stevens' speech embarrassing. I know showing your feelings is very threatening to portions of the population. And it wasn't hard to understand what she was saying. This ad is just embarrassing...

Arjay
Sun, 10/04/2020 - 7:16am

Stevens promised to work across the aisle. As a constituent of her district, I’ve contacted her or her office many times about my opinion on an issue. All I’ve ever received back is a form letter linking Stevens to the party. Stevens drank the Pelosi kool-aid as soon as she got into Congress. Dave Trott was great. Every week he sent out a 2or 3 page e-mail telling what issues were voted on, how he voted, and most importantly, why he voted as he did. And after 2 terms, he did what all in Congress should do, he self-imposed term limits on himself.

Dr. D.
Wed, 10/21/2020 - 7:55am

I see some comments in Stevens defense that relate to Donald Trump's behavior / actions. As someone who did not vote for Trump, when I see her behavior in that clip I have the same negative reaction that I have with similar behavior from Trump. I am tired of Trump and anyone else who cannot in mature manner express their opinions. Passion is fine, but that is not the same as an out of control emotional release. I do not plan to vote for Stephens.