An ongoing controversy between Patrick Colbeck and Abdul El-Sayed bubbled to the forefront at the gubernatorial debate on Mackinac Island Thursday when the Republican hopeful accused El-Sayed of playing “the race card.”
Colbeck took flack from El-Sayed and his supporters after he alleged El-Sayed, a Democrat, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and supports Sharia law. The comments are unsubstantiated and were first reported on by Buzzfeed News.
In response to a question about whether Colbeck was playing into bigotry by doubling down on those comments, Colbeck said El-Sayed was misconstruing what he said.
“I think Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is going off and playing a religion card, and he’s playing a race card when all I did was highlight his associate with an organization affiliated with the Muslim brotherhood,” he said. “This has been labeled with hate speech…the hate speech as been coming from Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.”
El-Sayed pulled a constitution out of his pocket and said it “protects my right to pray as I choose to pray.”
“Every time we hear this, it speaks to a long history of people who look a little different than the senator…trying to do something that is perfectly within their rights, and then having their very Americanness questioned,” he said. “We’ve seen this before. To be frank, it’s a distraction.”
Colbeck responded: “Obviously he’s very clever he’s trying to make it about religion – it’s never been about religion, and he knows it.” He also criticized El-Sayed’s support of making Michigan a sanctuary state.
El-Sayed said racism is a distraction to getting Michigan an inclusive economy and fixing its problems, and making sure every kid has a chance to succeed.
The debate, held at the Mackinac Policy Conference, featured commentary from the top three gubernatorial candidates from both Democrat and Republican parties.