Bachmann tries to get past Obama flap

Republican Congressional candidate Michele Bachman
Republican candidate for Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, incumbent Michele Bachmann, debates opponent Elwyn Tinklenberg in St. Cloud, Minn.
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

In a commercial that hit Minnesota airwaves on Friday, Bachmann speaks directly into the camera.

"I may not always get my words right," she says, "but I know my heart is right because my heart is for you, for your children and for the blessings of liberty to remain for our great country."

The ad doesn't directly mention what she said on MSNBC's "Hardball" a week ago. During that interview, she said Obama "may have anti-American views" and called on the media to look into whether members of Congress are "pro-America" or "anti-America."

Her race with Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg has gone through an upheaval since that appearance, with Tinklenberg hauling in almost $1.5 million and a new poll showing the two running about even in a race Bachmann had been favored to win.

Republicans including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson both cited Bachmann's remarks as a factor in their endorsements of Obama.

Tinklenberg is also highlighting her comments using the "Hardball" footage in his own TV ad.

Bachmann started hitting back on Friday with the softer message and a harder-edged ad that goes after Tinklenberg's record as a state transportation commissioner and mayor of the Twin Cities suburb of Blaine. It accuses him of raising property taxes as a mayor and cozy contracting as the roads' chief.

All week, though, Bachmann has pulled back from the MSNBC interview remarks.

The first-term congresswoman said earlier this week that she regretted using the term "anti-American" and appearing on "Hardball," where she said she walked into a trap.

The new commercial doesn't offer explanations for the controversial comments. Instead, she tells voters they have a choice between embracing government or choosing "freedom and liberty."

Minnesota DFL Party spokesman John Stiles issued a statement pointing out that Bachmann didn't use the words "apologize," ''regret" or "sorry" anywhere in the commercial.

"Instead, in her latest ad she simply patronizes voters with generalities," he said. "The voters of Minnesota can draw only one conclusion from this ad: Bachmann truly believes everything that she said one week ago -- as she puts it, in her heart."

Minnesota's 6th District lies on a corridor between the northern Twin Cities suburbs and St. Cloud.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.