On final day, Bachmann and Tinklenberg try to win undecideds

Michele Bachmann and challenger El Tinklenberg
DFL candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg (right) is challenging the 6th Congressional District seat of incumbent candidate, Republican Michele Bachmann.
MPR Photo

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann spent nearly an hour shaking hands with morning commuters at the Metro Transit Park 'n' Ride lot in Blaine. Her bid for a second term has been tougher than expected, but Bachmann remained upbeat about her chances.

"Oh we're feeling great. We are really feeling great," she said. "We've had just an excellent response from people. We've been all over the district. And we've just gotten really good feedback from people."

Bachmann's campaign schedule included stops in Blaine, Anoka and Woodbury, and a Republican rally with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in St. Paul. At the commuter lot in Blaine, Bachmann got some help from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who's not on the ballot this year. "Well I'm just trying to do all I can in the closing hours here to help our team. And so I've been campaigning for Sen. McCain and Sen. Coleman and Erik Paulsen and now Michele Bachmann and legislative candidate," Pawlenty said. "And anywhere I can be helpful I try to be helpful."

Shaking hands
Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, right, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, center, greet morning bus riders at a commuter lot in Blaine, one day before the election. Bachmann is in a close race for re-election against DFLer Elwyn Tinklenberg.
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

What's particularly helpful for Bachmann is standing alongside a popular governor at a time when she's still taking heat for her comments about Barack Obama and liberal members of Congress possibly being "anti-American." But more than two weeks after that interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, Bachmann insists voters aren't bringing up the controversy.

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"It's really interesting, because the only thing people talk to me about is usually the economy and the bailout," she said. "That's really what their focus is, because they're concerned about their jobs. They're concerned about what's going to happen this winter. They're very happy about gas prices getting back to $2."

About six miles away, supporters of Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg were holding a get out the vote rally at the Teamster Hall in Blaine. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was there to fire up the volunteers.

Klobuchar said Bachmann's "anti-American" comments helped put the 6th district race on a national stage. They also brought in nearly $2 million in new campaign donations for Tinklenberg. But Klobuchar reminded volunteers that their local efforts could have the biggest impact.

Door to door
DFL congressional candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg talks to a voter during a campaign swing through a neighborhood in Blaine Monday morning. Tinklenberg is challenging incumbent Republican Michele Bachmann in the 6th District.
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

"I think what today is about is about getting out there in the 6th District, going door to door, making every single phone call, making sure everyone gets that piece of literature," Klobuchar said. "Because that vote could make the difference in this race, that's how close it is."

Klobuchar won in the mostly Republican 6th District two years ago, and she predicted Tinklenberg can do the same. Tinklenberg credited Bachmann and her comments for putting him in a position to win.

"She has given us the stage in which we can make the differences between us clear. Now, let's take advantage of it," he said. "Now, let's go out and convince people that this is in fact the time for change and a new direction in our country. We can do this."

Tinklenberg is running with two party endorsements. The Independence Party of Minnesota is also backing the Democrat. Although Bob Anderson is on the ballot as an un-endorsed Independence Party candidate. Still, Tinklenberg says independent voters will decide who wins the 6th district race.

Bob Anderson
Bob Anderson is running in the 6th District as an Independence Party candidate, even though the party has endorsed his Democratic opponent, El Tinklenberg
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

"We know it's going to be close. And we're going to need all those volunteers and all of those people out. But we think if we can keep the momentum going right through the end, that we've got a good chance to win," he said.

Tinklenberg's schedule the day before the election included stops in Coon Rapids, Blaine and St. Cloud. He plans to finish the day working the phones at his Blaine campaign headquarters.