Rogers’ group puts Mich. in security debate spotlight

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be quizzed on his foreign policy views Monday at a forum in Southfield sponsored by a group seeking to inject national security issues into the 2016 presidential race.

Kasich will take part in a 45-minute event sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security, which is led by former Michigan U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell. Monday’s 1 p.m. event with Kasich at Lawrence Technological University marks the first APPS national security forum outside of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — which hold the first caucuses and primaries.

APPS has held 13 of these one-on-one question-and-answer sessions with Republican presidential candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Rogers said.

Rogers, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, contends the forums are pushing the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates to hone their knowledge of international affairs and be prepared to answer “hard questions.”

“It’s really easy for a presidential candidate in years past to come to Iowa and say, ‘Hey, I’m for Israel, Putin is bad, let’s talk about some ethanol,’ ” said Rogers, referencing Russia President Vladimir Putin.

“...It is solely national security purposed. ... What do you do with Iran now that the (nuclear) deal may or may not happen? How do you push Russia back into its cage? What are you doing about Chinese aggression in the South China Sea? ... This will be the biggest issue the next commander-in-chief faces the day they take the oath.”

Danielle Pletka, senior vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, will ask Kasich questions.

Kasich participated in an APPS forum Aug. 17 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the two-term Ohio governor was asked about his support for the Iraq war in 2002 and voiced support for sending American ground troops back to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State extremist group, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

APPS has done forums with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, famed neurosurgeon and native Detroiter Dr. Ben Carson, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former computer executive Carly Fiorina.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has done APPS forums in South Carolina and Iowa and the organization hopes to host him in New Hampshire before that state’s Feb. 9 primary, Rogers said.

“We think we’ve moved the needle a little about people’s view of the importance of national security and foreign affairs in those early primary states,” he said.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has not responded to the group’s invitation to participate in a forum focused solely on national security, Rogers said.

“The inquiries are in and we have not nailed on any logistics,” he said. “That’s the polite way of saying that.”

Michigan’s 2016 primary is March 8.

With Rogers as the chairman, there are other Michigan GOP heavyweights involved with APPS.

Former Gov. John Engler is on the group’s national advisory board.

Bobby Schostak, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, is chairing a Michigan chapter of APPS and his new political consulting firm, Templar Baker Group, is helping organize the forums.

With former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton leading a smaller pack for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Republican leaders are trying to make homeland security and foreign policy a top issue next year.

“We want our candidates talking about it and showing the expertise they have on it and to differentiate themselves from the Democrats in terms of this being a priority,” Schostak said.

APPS is trying to organize a forum for one of the presidential candidates attending the Sept. 18-20 Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference at the Grand Hotel, according to Rogers and Schostak.

“If we can get the logistics worked out, we’ll have one on Mackinac Island,” Rogers said. “That would be great. It exposes a candidate on some pretty serious issues to a host of people who will likely vote in the primary.”

Kasich, Bush, Fiorina, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have commited to speaking at the Michigan Republican Party’s biennial confab on Mackinac Island.

Monday’s national security forum will mark the start of Kasich’s fourth tour through Michigan this year and his second since launching his presidential campaign in late July. On Tuesday, the Lansing Chamber of Commerce is hosting Kasich for a luncheon in Bath.

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If you go...

What: Ohio Gov. John Kasich at national security forum sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security

When: 1-2 p.m. Monday. Doors open at 12:15 p.m.

Where: Lawrence Technological University, University Technology & Learning Center, 21000 W 10 Mile Road, Southfield

Cost: Free. Tickets can reserved online at