The two leading candidates vying for U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad’s open House seat got a little help from some high-profile friends today.
DFLer Ashwin Madia appeared at an event in Bloomington flanked by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis.
Pelosi and Klobuchar both congratulated Madia on an article in today’s Washington Post, which called him a “poster boy for Democratic hopes.”
While the event was mostly focused on lauding Madia, Kelliher did get in a jab at Paulsen, saying he is not the rightful heir to Ramstad’s moderate Republican mantle.
“[Paulsen] has a thin record of working across party lines and making progress on important issues, and in fact, for that matter, a thin record of accomplishing things on most issues,” Kelliher said. “In the ten years I have served with Erik, he has been one of the most partisan members of the House.”
Paulsen disputed that, pointing out that most of the bills he has authored in recent years have been bi-partisan efforts.
Paulsen defends his record on veterans’ issues
Meanwhile, Paulsen’s campaign called a press conference to respond to a deluge of direct mail and television ads that have sought to paint him as an opponent of veterans programs.
“This is part of a nationwide, really deceptive campaign,” U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said at the event. “It’s a cookie-cutter attack against Repubicans from coast to coast to make people think that the Republicans are somehow conspiring against veterans.”
The attacks in question have not come from the Madia campaign. They are from a variety of independent groups, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and VoteVets.org.
One VoteVets flier blasts Paulsen for allegedly opposing the so-called Minnesota G.I. Bill.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., came to Paulsen’s defense on that one.
Pawlenty said he and Paulsen opposed the version of the bill referenced in the flier, in part because it had less veterans funding than Pawlenty had requested. Paulsen voted for a later version of the bill.
“To look at that chain of events and suggest somehow that Erik is systematically opposed to veterans or members of the military or their families is preposterous,” Pawlenty said.
Bachmann’s comments overshadow both events
While the 3rd District race is still seen as one of the hottest in the country, reporters at both events were looking for comments on the increasingly competitive race in Minnesota’s 6th District.
Incumbent first-term U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., inadvertantly gave her DFL challenger a major financial boost on Friday, when she told MSNBC she believed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may harbor “anti-American” views.
“The comments, as I have read them are not comments I would have made,” Kline said.
Paulsen called them “inappropriate.” So did Pawlenty, though he added that it’s not the first time a candidate has said something off-base in the heat of a campaign.
“It’s just the nature of talking all day,” Pawlenty said. “Some words are going to come out of your mouth that you could have said better, should have said better, should have done differently. And we’ve all been there to varying degrees. I know I’ve been there.”
But Pelosi was not so forgiving. She called Republicans like Bachmann “bankrupt in their ideas” about jobs, education, health care and energy policy.
“So what do they do? They question the patriotism of others,” Pelosi said in response to a question from a reporter at the Madia event. “I think that a statement of the kind Congresswoman Bachmann made dishonors the position she holds and discredits her as a person.”
To hear more of what the candidates and their various guests of honor said today, use the audio players below.
Pelosi on Bachmann:
Pelosi on Madia:
Madia on Madia:
Kline defends Paulsen:
Pawlenty does, too:
Pawlenty, Kline and Paulsen take questions:
Lt. Col. Alex Plechash weighs in at Paulsen press conference: