GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Mike Rogers says “a weak and porous southern border” is fueling crime in his state.

Rogers, a former FBI special agent who later served as House Intelligence Committee chair during his tenure in Congress and who is now running for the Republican Senate nomination in battleground Michigan, tells Fox News Digital that the top issues in his campaign are crime, the border, security and “the economy, which is in the tank.”

The clear front-runner in the August GOP Senate primary, Rogers will likely face off with Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in the race to succeed longtime Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election this year.

The seat is one of a handful that Republicans are aiming to flip from blue to red in November, as they push to regain the Senate majority they lost in the 2020 cycle.

TRUMP TARGETS PRESIDENT OVER ‘BIDEN’S BORDER BLOODBATH’ DURING STOP IN THIS CRUCIAL BATTLEGROUND STATE

Rogers spoke to Fox News Digital minutes before he and other Republican leaders and law enforcement officials joined former President Donald Trump at a roundtable discussion and stood behind him at an ensuing campaign event where the presumptive GOP presidential nominee targeted President Biden over crime and the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We’ve had minors solicited by illegal immigrants not too far from here. We’ve had a murder of Ruby Garcia, a horrific murder, right here in Kent County. We’ve had criminal cartel gangs operating in Oakland and Wayne County on the southeast side of the state for months now. They’re very organized, and they’re doing a lot of damage. All of that because of a weak and porous southern border,” Rogers charged.

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The Trump visit came in the wake of the March 22 murder of Garcia, a 25-year-old woman allegedly killed by an illegal immigrant who had been deported to Mexico in 2020 but returned to the U.S. Garcia’s death – her body was discovered alongside a road in Grand Rapids – has dominated local conservative talk radio and social media. 

Police say Garcia was in a romantic relationship with the suspect, Brandon Ortiz-Vite, who told authorities he shot her multiple times. 

Ruby Garcia, Brandon Ortiz-Vite

Pointing to the roundtable discussion with law enforcement leaders who endorsed Trump minutes later, Rogers argued that they “have been kicked in the teeth for the last three years by the Biden administration and Democrats. This is their opportunity to talk about real policy changes that will help them protect communities here in Michigan.”

Rogers bowed out of politics in 2016, the year that Trump won the White House.

ROGERS FLIRTS WITH 2024 WHITE HOUSE RUN DURING EARLY STATE STOPS

He returned to the campaign trail in late 2022 and early 2023, as he flirted with a long-shot Republican presidential nomination run, road-testing his message during stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the four early voting states in the GOP nomination race. And part of his message was that Trump’s time leading the party had passed.

Mike Rogers in New Hampshire

But Rogers ultimately decided against a White House bid, and last autumn, after moving back to Michigan from Florida, launched a Senate campaign after being encouraged to run by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

He backed Trump in the GOP presidential nomination race in January and Trump reciprocated a month ago. The former president gave Rogers another shout out in his comments to the crowd in Michigan.

THIS FORMER FBI AGENT LAUNCHES SENATE RUN

Rogers, in his Fox News Digital interview, emphasized that “Donald Trump is the right person at the right time to fix some huge problems for this country.”

As he mulled a presidential run, Rogers was clear in rejecting Trump’s repeated unproven claims that his 2020 election loss to President Biden was due to a “rigged” election that was “stolen.”

Asked how he squared his past criticism with his current backing of Trump, Rogers said “politics are like family fights. You have your family fight. You have your disagreements. You get up the next day. You dust yourself off. You move out smartly. We’re moving out smartly for a November win.”

Mike Rogers is backed by former President Trump as he runs for the Senate in Michigan

Besides the Trump endorsement, Rogers’ odds of winning the GOP nomination also improved after former Detroit Police Chief James Craig dropped his Senate bid a month ago and later backed Rogers.

The Republican Senate field remains crowded. Among the other contenders are two vocal Trump critics — former Reps. Peter Meijer and Justin Amash, as well as entrepreneur and self-funding candidate Sandy Pensler.

Rogers said that even with the Trump endorsement, “I’m used to being 1,000 points behind every single day and that’s how we act…. We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re still trying to put the party back together, every faction of it, to make sure that we have the infrastructure to beat the Democrat machine in November.”

But Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Maeve Coyle claimed in a statement to Fox News that “Republicans are engulfed in a radioactive, expensive primary that will leave their eventual nominee deeply damaged.” 

And Coyle claimed that “every day is bringing new and damaging revelations about National Republicans’ chosen candidate Revolving Door Rogers – like how he supports a national abortion ban, enriched himself through ties to Chinese businesses, and ditched Michigan to live in a million dollar Florida mansion the first chance he got.”

On the combustible issue of abortion, Rogers acknowledged that “I’m someone who supports life and always have.”

In Congress over a decade ago, Rogers voted to enact federal abortion restrictions. Now he opposes such a move.

And pointing to the 2022 vote by Michigan to codify reproductive rights, including access to abortion, in the state constitution, Rogers said “abortion is legal here in the state of Michigan. I’m not going back to Washington D.C. to undo what I believe was rightly done by the decision… it’s part of the [state] constitution. It is protected. It’s legal. I’m not going to go back and change that at the federal level.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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