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Bachmann says America may be 'changed forever' if Obama elected

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Michele Bachmann speaking in Forest Lake
Michele Bachmann, whose campaign has been thrust into the spotlight for her recent comments on presidential candidate Barack Obama, spoke in Forest Lake regarding her campaign and the upcoming election.
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was on the campaign trail Wednesday, trying to get the focus back on policy issues. Bachmann visited TeamVantage Molding, a family-owned business in Forest Lake, to talk about repealing the federal estate tax.

"You can count on me as a member of Congress to be a part of the coalition that will repeal once and for all this misguided death tax, when Congress returns to session in January, if I'm lucky enough to go back and represent you there," Bachmann said.

Michele Bachmann defends her comments
In a speech to a St. Cloud business group, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann apologizes for using the term "anti-American" to describe Barack Obama's views on a national television appearance last week. Bachmann says she believes Obama is a patriot, even though she disagrees with him.
MPR Photo/Ambar Espinoza

Bachmann's re-election bid took a major hit last Friday when she went on the MNSBC program Hardball. Bachmann wondered aloud if Barack Obama was anti-American and then suggested the news media investigate other members of Congress for their anti-American views.

During a speech in St. Cloud on Tuesday, Bachmann tried to set the record straight saying she thinks Obama loves his country. She insisted she does not question Obama's patriotism, does not believe he's anti-American and never called for an investigation of Congress.

Bachmann wouldn't answer questions in Forest Lake, but her campaign manager, Michelle Marston, said the Congresswoman was busy focusing on issues. Marston said the flap over the MSNBC interview has been a big distraction.

"We have been kind of been forced to get off of talking about the issues that people want to be talking about," Marston said. "And as hard as we try to keep on those issues, and keep talking about Michele Bachmann's record of lowering taxes, of cutting government spending, of reforming the ways of Washington, we keep getting pulled back into talking about Chris Matthews."

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But Bachmann was bringing up Chris Matthews on her own during an interview on the Mike Gallagher radio show. Bachmann raised some familiar-sounding issues just a day after her St. Cloud speech.

"What are Barack Obama's policies?" Bachmann said on the show. "Are they for America or will they be against traditional American ideals and values? And I'll tell you what, punishing tax rates, redistribution of wealth, socialized medicine, inputting censorship in the form of the un-Fairness Doctrine and taking away the secret ballot from the worker has nothing to do with traditional American values. That's why your listeners need to know. Otherwise the United States may be literally changed forever if Barack Obama becomes the next president." 

Bachmann also told Gallagher and his audience that she's desperate for financial help. Her Democratic opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, has raised $1.3 million since Friday when Bachmann appeared on MSNBC. And, the National Republican Congressional Committee has canceled the TV ads it scheduled on Bachmann's behalf on Twin Cities stations. Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it intends to spend more than $1 million in TV ads to defeat Bachmann.

DFL state Senator Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud said Tinklenberg is now in a good position to win, thanks to Bachmann.

"Michele Bachmann has singlehandedly helped El Tinklenberg show who she really is," Clark said. "And we probably couldn't have even raised the money to get that kind of information out to the people to the 6th district. But, she did it on her own. Now he has the resources to get his positive vision out."

But many Republicans warn against counting out Bachmann too soon. David Strom of the Minnesota Free Market Institute, who stood with Bachmann during the Forest Lake event, said he doesn't see the controversy translating into a defeat for Bachmann. Strom said despite the commotion, Bachmann still has many like-minded constituents in the 6th district.

"At the end of the day Bachmann fits the district very well," Strom said. "And I don't think that most of the people in the district think she's so far out on the extreme, because she actually represents where most people in the district actually are."

Stay tuned for a steady barrage of 6th district ads on Twin Cities television in the final two weeks of the campaign.