Democrats on road trip; Bachmann and Graves debate

A big campaign bus swung around outside the State Capitol today (Nov. 1) and only a completely apolitical Minnesota, given the large images of President Barack Obama, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, and Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar brightening the outside, would expect anything but Democrats to come spilling out.


Democrats stopped by the State Capitol in waning days until the election as part of a statewide tour.


Dayton, refusing to attempt to climb onto a speaker’s platform outside the bus because of residual affects of a visit to the dentist, glanced at the huge images on the bus behind him, praising the appearances of the outer two.


“And then there’s the guy in between,” he quipped of his own picture.


Dayton indicated the election was about basic issues.


“No Tweedledum, Tweedledee. This is fundamental difference in direction our country and our state,” Dayton said.


Democratic 4th District Congresswoman Betty McCollum herald the congressional matchups.


“People are really looking at Graves very carefully,” she said of 6th District Democratic challenger Jim Graves.


“I could sure use a brother like that,” she said of someone representing the people.


Democratic Chairman Ken Martin bullyragged Republicans.


“That was their legacy of the last two years,” said Martin, pointing to the constitutional amendments on the ballot.


Others thought voters regretted the outcome of the last election.


“I think there’s a great deal of buyers’ remorse by a lot of the people who voted for a Republican legislature,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.


“This pendulum is going to swing back in this election. Democrats are going to gain control of the State Senate,” Bakk said to cheers.


Others spoke of their hopes.


“I am really excited for Election Day,” said House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.


“Winning for Democrats is good — and I like that personally,” he said.


But Thissen argues it was also good for the middle class.


“The fact of the matter is, this is going to be a very competitive, very close election,” Thissen said.


Klobuchar senses a spirit among the voters, she explained.


She lauded the perceived strengths of Democratic candidates.


“They are pragmatic problem solvers,” she said.


“They don’t look at things through the lens of rigid ideology.”


“The pledge our candidates have signed is to represent the people of Minnesota,” Klobochar said.


Not long after the bus drew away from the Capitol, 6th District Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Graves appeared on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) in a debate moderated by MPR host Kerri Miller.


Miller questioned Bachmann regarding women’s issues.


Specifically, Miller asked questions about Bachmann’s legislation, the Heartbeat Informed Consent Act, which seeks to ensure women seeking an abortion receive an ultrasound and opportunity to review the ultrasound before giving consent to receive an abortion.


Bachmann indicated she believed the bill was appropriate.


“I think it’s important for women to have all medical information available to them before they engage in procedures that can have life altering consequences,” she said.


She further indicated some women lack medical information when considering abortion.


“That’s right,” Bachmann said.


Still, the legislation doesn’t force anyone to make a certain decision, Bachmann argued.


Miller unsuccessfully tried to get Bachmann to address comments by Indiana Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock indicating he opposed abortion in case of rape because the resulting pregnancy was something God intended.


“I’m 100 percent pro life,” Bachmann said.


“I believe there needs to be an exception for the life of the mother,” she said.


But Bachmann suggested Miller’s question was missing the point.


“It’s not a small issue. It’s a big issue,” Bachmann said.


It’s not just rare cases they’re dealing with, but the big overall issue, she argued.


“Again, my position is in line with the Catholic church,” Bachmann said.


Graves indicated that the issue of abortion belonged outside of government.


“That’s between her family and her God,” he said of the decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy.


“I’m not going to be involved in that,” he said.


Graves repudiated the comments by Mourdock.


“I don’t share his thoughts whatsoever,” Graves said


Miller also questioned Bachmann’s support of the proposed personhood constitutional amendment seeking to grant legal protections to human embryos starting at conception.


In an involved exchange, Bachmann indicated such a provision might include waivers for certain medial circumstances.


“My basic philosophical position is I stand for life,” Bachmann said.


Graves suggested he would work to find common ground.


“Quite frankly, what I’m all about is we all agree that abortion is a difficult and terrible outcome for the women that are involved,” Graves said.


He expressed support for birth control, maternity leave, equal pay for women.


“I want to basically get rid of all of those needs why a woman would have to have an abortion,” he said.


“That’s what I’m all about,” Graves said.


Addressing the Affordable Care Act, or Obmamacare, Graves, while indicating he does not support repealing the law as Bachmann, indicated his support was not absolute.


“I haven’t heard anything better,” Graves said of Obamacare.


“I would rescind it if there was something better?”


“Of course,” Graves said.


In the meantime Congress should work to improve the legislation, he said.


“I think that’s a clear line of distinction between Jim and myself,” Bachmann said.


Another clear distinction between Graves and herself, Bachmann argued, dealt with the federal government bailout of the auto industry.


Bachmann would have still have voted against the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler even though both companies are now profitable, she indicated.


Moreover, a lot of the federal bailout dollars were directed to Wall Street.


“When Wall Street threw the dice, they loved it when they made a profit. And they pocketed them,” Bachmann said.


But when they had losses, they looked to the taxpayer to bail them out.


“And I said ‘No,’” Bachmann said.



She opposed the bailout for both Wall Street and the auto industry, Bachmann explained.


There could have been an orderly process of bankruptcy, she said.


Now the federal government is one of the biggest owners of General Motors, Bachmann said.


“I don’t think that’s good policy to have the federal government to have ownership in private industry,” she said.


For his part, Graves argued that Wall Street was in “cardiac arrest” and the auto industry teetering on a collapse that would have pulled down all the auto manufacturers.


His litmus test in these matters is what’s best for the country, Graves explained.


“It’s one of those things,” he said.