Madia’s misstatement

From MPR’s Curtis Gilbert:

DFL 3rd District congressional candidate Ashwin Madia says he misspoke when he told Minnesota Public Radio that he voted for Al Gore in 2000. Madia now says he voted for George W. Bush that year.

“He flubbed it with you,” Madia spokesman Chris Truscott said.

Madia won the DFL endorsement Saturday after a close race race with Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka. Bonoff had made an issue out of Madia’s past support for Republicans, and some delegates said they were concerned about his DFL bona fides.

Madia has been open about supporting John McCain’s failed presidential bid in 2000. But Minnesota Public Radio’s Curtis Gilbert asked Madia two days before he was endorsed whether he had supported Bush that year after McCain fizzled. Here’s a transcript of part of the interview :

MPR: 2000 election, of course, McCain wasn’t the nominee. Did you actually vote for Bush in 2000?

Madia: No.

MPR: You didn’t? You voted for Al Gore?

Madia: Yes.

Based on that exchange Minnesota Public Radio reported Friday that Madia never voted for Bush

Truscott said Madia wasn’t trying to mislead DFL delegates about voting for Bush, and that he simply “botched” his answer. Madia says he became a Democrat around 2003, after becoming disenchanted with Bush. He says he voted for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

  • Disenchanted Dem

    Dear Media (not to be confused with Madia):

    When candidates lie, can we PLEASE start calling them on it? I don’t care how his campaign tries to explain this away – he answers the question very clearly twice. This is not a botch, or a misstatement. Your headline does more than give the candidate the benefit of the doubt; it naively repeats a false assertion as if it were true. Your headline should instead read, “Madia’s lie and coverup” or something of the sort.

    The outrage generated by this revelation should only be compounded by the fact that both Madia and his surrogates/volunteers/staffers have repeatedly made the argument that he wasn’t a “real” republican, since he (like many other independents) supported McCain in 2000. In fact, representatives of his campaign told DFL delegates explicitly that “he never voted for Bush.”

    I don’t know that this revelation would have swayed the results of the nomination process, but it certainly confirms the growing perception that Ashwin Madia is a disingenous, opportunistic politician’s politican who will say anything to get himself ahead.

  • West Metro Dem

    Good lord. I’ve been a Dem since Carter and I get confused over who ran when. As many interviews as every candidate gives, I’m surprised more muffs don’t hit the news. I wouldn’t think this would be a big deal – he’s been open about his Republican days. I would have suggested it be ignored if it had happened to Sen. Bonoff. It’s just not important. One thing we know for sure – Erik Paulsen did vote for Reagan, Bush Sr and Bush Jr. He’ll be voting for McCain, too. Madia surely won’t be. That’s what’s important.

  • Tom

    Wow! Madia lied to get the DFL endorsement. I wonder how the Delegates to the convention feel.

    Big mistake by Madia, he just gave Terri Bonoff a legitimate reason to challenge him in the primary.

    Maybe he figured misspeaking and waiting until after the convention to correct it was the only way he could get the endorsement.

  • …and a Terri Bonoff herself would have ignored Madia’s past Republican votes, had she herself not been in the race–as is evidenced by her strong support for Wendy Wilde at the 2006 CD3 DFL Convention. Wilde [CD3’s DFL candidate for Congress] that day admitted she’d cast votes for people of various parties, but had recently come to decide the DFL was the best fit for her. Bonoff didn’t express a peep of disquiet, at the time.

  • Walter Johnson

    Madia turned 30 years of age in March 2008. Having had exactly three (3) opportunities to vote for President of the United States, and being politically involved enough to run for Congress, one would think Madia would be able to keep his votes, and his story, straight.

  • Get His Story Straight

    Madia should get his story straight. Here is what Madia himself wrote a few months ago at MN Publius:


    When I was younger, I considered myself to be a moderate Republican, and I volunteered for John McCain in the race for President in 2000.

    But even back then there were signs that I wouldn’t be a Republican for long. In 2000, a student newspaper wire service reported the following when they interviewed me at a Bill Bradley for President rally:

    “Noting that he would work for the Bradley campaign before he would work for Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Madia said he believed it’s never too late for a committed candidate to make a run for the finish. ‘Bill Bradley has so much integrity, he has so much heart, I wouldn’t count this race over until he withdraws from it,’ he said.” (”Younger voters still stick by Bradley,” by Michael Gannon, March 3, 2000, Medill News Service/Y Vote 2000, University Wire.)

    >>>So Madia went from being a McCain supporter to being a Bradley supporter to voting for Bush…and then lying about it.

  • Grace Kelly

    Wow, this blog is like ABC news, bring politics down to petty misstatements. The statement was corrected. Maybe we should start going through everything you have ever said or written and write big articles about that.

  • MR

    I don’t have a problem with changing parties, changing who you support, changing beliefs, etc. I have a problem with his answering a simple question wrong twice, then claiming he “misspoke.” When you add to his “misstatement” that at Senate District conventions in the 3rd, delegates were repeatedly told “At least he never voted for Bush,” I can’t conclude anything but that he was deliberately lying to mislead delegates.

  • TwoPuttTommy

    I’ve been following this campaign since November, and Captain Madia has been up front and clear that he used to be a Republican.

    Captain Madia has been consistent in articulating his beliefs. And quite frankly, I’m not surprised to read about this flub; in all the times I’ve heard him he’s been spot on.

    I guess in the course of a long, hard-fought campaign, it’s inevitable that sometime, somewhere, you’re going to wish you had a do-over.

    This only goes to show that this Marine, Captain Madia, is human, after all: “To err is human; to forgive is devine.”

    Truscott is correct; Captain Madia has never tried to mislead anyone.

  • Disenchanted Dem

    I’m with M.R. on this one. The point is not whether or not Madia was a Republican in his “youth” – that’s been established. I’m also a democrat who likes to think that we’re a “big tent” party, and that a candidate, especially one running in a purple district like the 3rd, can certainly benefit from a party converstion narrative.

    The point here is that certainly appears that Madia and his campaign deliberately lied and obfuscated about his political history, for the sole purpose of winning the endorsement. The image of a McCain Maverick supporter (however inoperable that image is today) becoming a democrat is much easier to swallow than that of a Bush-based convert. Madia’s campaign made it an explicit talking point that he “was never a Bush Republican.”

    For this news to come out now, after he has secured the nomination, suggests that Madia knew this information would damage his chances of winning the nomination. So much for the new politics of transparency and honesty, eh?

    Again – I’m happy to accept that Madia was a party-line Republican who felt betrayed by Bush and switched parties. This is a legitimate transformation and effective political strategy (see Webb, Jim). What I’m not happy to accept is a candidate who deliberately lies about his political history for political expedience.

  • Nana

    “Secret Ballot” was always the answer mom would give us when she returned home from the polls.

    So I don’t think for whom one citizen has cast their ballot is particularly important.

    The votes of elected officials are what is important, and that’s why they become a part of public record.

  • West Metro Dem

    Fair enough, Disenchanted Dem. If that is what you believe, then your option is to vote for Erik Paulsen this fall. I’m sure you will know precisely where he stands on all issues at all times and you can rest assured he will never make a mis-step. He doesn’t do public events nor many interviews so there’s less chance of him ever being quoted anywhere. You also will know precisely where he stands because you can check his voting record – let’s see….100% rating with MCCL just to start.

    The nomination is over. Sen. Bonoff has conceded and gone to battle over in the State Senate where she is needed desperately to hold the line against TPaw this session.

    Your options are clear: either accept that Madia mis-spoke and actually had done what he said – voted as a GOP’er until 2003 or support Paulsen. I’m thinking it should be a pretty easy decision, frankly.

    I can’t guarantee that any candidate will not mis-speak or be mis-quoted again. Heaven only knows Obama, Clinton and McCain certainly wish they could stop their mouths occasionally, I’m sure. If we focus on one statement (one that does not contradict anything else he had said previously – he was a Repubilcan before 2003 – I assumed as a Republican he voted Republican) then we will not win the seat in November. That’s the goal. Turning the seat blue in November. How about helping out?

  • Disenchanted Dem

    West Metro Dem (WMD – heh),

    Thanks for the prompt. I suppose I should’ve announced as a disclaimer to my original post that I’m absolutely committed to winning the 3rd in November, and I’ve already added myself to the Madia mailing list to start volunteering ASAP.

    That being said, let’s have a brief moment of intellectual honesty here (I promise, it won’t hurt all that much). First things first – you suggest that Ashwin was “mis-quoted,” despite the fact thathis campaign called MPR to walk back his earlier assertion. ‘Nuff said on that.

    Now, on to the question of “misspeaking” Maybe this is a question of how much credibility you’re willing to give Madia (a good amount, I’d imagine) vs. how much I’m willing to give him (not so much), but I’m flabbergasted that anyone can suggest with a straight face that Ashwin “misspoke.”

    #1) He knowingly falsely answered a question. Then he knowingly and falsely answered a clarifying question. I haven’t seen anyone argue yet that he didn’t understand what was being asked. Instead, he just lied.

    #2) While I never personally heard Ashwin say that he never voted for bush, I sure heard his volunteers and staff members telling undecided delegates that at SD41, among other places. That suggests, to me, a conscious decision on the part of either the campaign or the candidate to deliberately promote a falsehood to win over delegates.

    Please allow me to point you to Hendrik Hertzberg’s piece in this week’s new yorker: ( The money quote: “Misspeak” is a powerful word, a magical word. It is a word that is apparently thought capable, in its contemporary political usage, of isolating a palpable, possibly toxic untruth, sealing it up in an airtight bag, and disposing of it harmlessly.”

    As DFLer, I’m committed to working on behalf of all of our nominated candidates and advancing the party’s interest. At the same time, as a DFLer, I’m equally interested in maintaining the integrity of the party. I find it disappointing that we nominated a candidate in CD3 who intentionally lied to win a nomination, and I think that by calling him out on it, we can discouarge similar behavior in the future. The fewer dishonest democrats we have, the better off we are as a party, no?

  • James P

    That Madia was caught in a lie is not surprising to candidate watchers. His endorsement campaign was loaded with vagueness, exaggeration, missing information, and deceptive language. The interesting question is what else the Paulsen campaign will be able to dig up, and how soon the DCCC realizes its error and pulls the plug. Republicans can look forward to an entertaining summer, as the Mysterious Mister Madia helps Democrats in the 3rd District self-destruct once again.

  • DFLVictory

    WMD, I agree that Madia has certainly been upfront about his Republican affiliation until 2003 and it would be no surprise that he voted for Bush in 2000. It would be more surprising had he voted for Gore while proclaiming himself a Republican. This is a non-issue for me and I accept that it was a misstatement.

    What is more important is how his positions differ with Paulson’s and that is where the focus should be going forward. The choice is simple to me: Blue in November.

  • Curtis Gilbert

    Quick correction for Disenchanted Dem: Madia’s campaign did not call me to correct the record. I called them after reading an article published this week that made passing reference to Madia voting for Bush in 2000. Since that was inconsistent with what he’d said in our interview (and what I had subsequently reported,) I called his campaign to find out which statement was correct.

  • West Metro Dem

    In a moment of intellectual honesty I have to admit that I really couldn’t care less who Madia voted for in 2000. He said he was a Republican. I took him at his word. I assumed he voted for the Republican candidate. I assume most Republicans did. The problem is so did the independents and some Democrats.

    The DCCC won’t pull the plug on this race. Madia is a compelling candidate with the ability to win the seat for the DFL. It’s time for the Bonoff people to do what Sen. Bonoff did. Support the nominee. Sen. Bonoff did what was best for the party. Her goal – like mine – is to win in November for the DFL.

    Hopefully, James and Disenchanted, you, too, will be able to understand that Republicans usually vote Republican. It’s just a non-issue.

  • West Metro Dem

    Disenchanted Dem,

    Are we going to discuss the lies told to delegates at conventions now? If so, shall we discuss the lies the Bonoff people were telling at SD33’s convention? That being that Madia had been fired from RKMC and that he had never held a job. Please. It’s time to move on. People not related directly to both campaigns said things they shouldn’t have. Please don’t pretend it was all poor Terri who was wronged.

  • TwoPuttTommy

    What I find interesting is all this attention on Captain Madia over a flub, when Paulsen clearly tried to claim – at his campaign announcement – something he is not – a moderate in the manner of Frenzel and Ramstad.

    Clearly, the former Republican Majority leadere is NOT a moderate.

    He also claims to have, and I quote from his website:

    Paulsen launches this bid after years of working in bipartisan fashion, across the aisle, to get results in the business world and in the Minnesota legislature. “

    That’s no flub, folks – that was printed on the Press Kit at his campaign kickoff event and it’s on his website.

    Let’s see if the press that’s worked the lege these last several years give Paulsen a pass on those whoppers.

  • Curtis,

    What article did you read this information in?

  • Curtis Gilbert
  • sota dem

    Having just read the above, I know that I will NOT be actively supporting Madia. I was lied to at the convention in order to secure a vote. What other lapses in judgement and integrity will Madia have in order to secure a vote? Count me (and MANY others) OUT. I will NOT be voting in this race.

  • west Metro Dem

    sota dem,

    Interesting choice. No vote for Madia is a vote for Erik Paulsen. I see a wide difference between the two. If you don’t, you aren’t looking. If you can live with yourself after voting for Paulsen (or not voting for Madia), then so be it.

    I personally have a very hard time believing that you didn’t do your homework before going to the convention and knew very well that Madia had been a republican until 2003. For whom do republicans vote? Republicans. Who would you assume Madia voted for prior to 2003 given that he was a Republican? Republicans. I can’t believe what someone said to you at the convention would change your mind. I would personally believe you went as a Bonoff supporter and cannot accept her concession and call to support Madia. You have to live with yourself. I’d hope you’d think of the rest of us. We have to live with your choice, too. I will work as hard as possible to elect Ash Madia in the 3rd. The difference between you and me? If it had been Terri Bonoff, I would have worked just as hard to elect her.

  • Disenchanted Dem

    WMD said: “I can’t believe what someone said to you at the convention would change your mind.”

    Right. God forbid that we hold politicians accountable for something as trivial as their words.

    Also, dear friend WMD, if ‘Sota Dem had “done his homework” before the convention, you know what he would have discovered? The following exchange:

    “MPR: 2000 election, of course, McCain wasn’t the nominee. Did you actually vote for Bush in 2000?

    Madia: No.

    MPR: You didn’t? You voted for Al Gore?

    Madia: Yes.”

    That’s why we’re having this whole conversation. The question isn’t whether or not there are substantive differences between Paulsen and Madia. The question is one of character, and honesty. It is truly damning when someone with such a thin public record feels compelled to out and out lie about it for political gain.

  • Get His Story Straight

    WMD said: “If it had been Terri Bonoff, I would have worked just as hard to elect her.”

    Yeah, right, you also need to get YOUR story straight, West Metro Dem. You have been attacking Terri Bonoff with distortions, half-truths and outright lies for months. Have you ever heard of something called Google?