U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a suburban Republican fighting an electoral headwind, is making a public break with President Donald Trump in his first television spot.
The ad, which was released Wednesday, focuses on an issue far from his Twin Cities district. In the 30-second spot, Paulsen highlights a personal admiration for the outdoors and efforts to resist accelerated mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in far northern Minnesota. Trump's administration has worked to authorize two mining projects that have caused strains in the area.
"I camp and canoe with my family in Minnesota's Yellowstone, the Boundary Waters," Paulsen says. "So when President Trump tried to take away important environmental protections for the Boundary Waters, I said, 'No way.'"
Amid serene images of Paulsen standing in front of a lake and his family paddling in a canoe, newspaper clips flash across the screen reinforcing his theme of breaking with his party on the issue. "I'm for mining, just not there," he says.
"I'll stand up to my party or President Trump to protect Minnesota," he concludes.
Democrats say Paulsen hasn't done enough to counter Trump, supporting the president's tax-cut push, a health care law repeal effort and other initiatives they argue won't pay off in the district. Aside from the environmental issue, Paulsen has separated from Trump on immigration and trade.
Paulsen's 3rd Congressional District seat will be heavily targeted by Democrats this fall. Entrepreneur and first-time candidate Dean Phillips is challenging the five-term incumbent.
Paulsen's district went convincingly for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 while voters there gave him two more years by a comfortable margin.
Paulsen's DFL-endorsed opponent Dean Phillips issued a news release noting Paulsen's low ranking from environmental groups including Clean Water Action and the League of Conservation Voters.
“Erik Paulsen has taken more special interest money than nearly any other member of Congress, and that buys him nice TV ads. Unfortunately, this is just another misrepresentation of truth from Rep. Paulsen - who has consistently voted against environmental protections during his 30 year political career. To understand why, you just have to follow the money. I believe voters will see through this election year posturing and vote this November for someone who is not beholden to special interests or party leadership,” Phillips said.