At fair, Smith and Housley disagree on much, especially Trump

U.S. Senator Tina Smith and State Senator Karin Housley.
One of the hardest fought campaigns this fall is the U.S. Senate contest between Democrat Tina Smith and Republican Karin Housley.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Sen. Tina Smith says in less than nine months in Washington she's been effective.

"I have demonstrated in my time in the Senate that I am listening to people and bringing their issues forward," said Smith, who was appointed to the job by Gov. Mark Dayton after Sen. Al Franken resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

But Smith's Republican challenger, state Sen. Karin Housley calls Smith a "puppet" of Democratic leadership.

"It is time for a new voice," Housley said. "People are really for somebody to fight for them and get something done in Washington, and I am that new voice."

U.S. Senator Tina Smith talks with farmer Jerry Jensen.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith talks with Isanti County farmer Jerry Jensen about President Trump's trade wars Friday.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Smith and Housley have been offering voters dramatically conflicting visions as they've been campaigning at the Minnesota State Fair.

Smith drew enthusiastic applause at the DFL booth talking about President Trump's possible legal problems.

"Nobody is above the law in this country, not any of us here in this pavilion and not the president of the United States."

Housley, a state senator from St. Mary's Point appeared at a rally with Trump earlier this summer in Duluth and backs the president.

"I do support his policies. I don't know if I'm a fan of his style, but his policies are working," Housley said, pointing to the strong economy and low unemployment rate.

Smith contends Minnesotans want more Democrats in Washington to oppose the president's agenda.

"They want to send somebody to Washington D.C., who is going to be a check and balance on this administration rather than somebody who says that they want to kind of promote the president's agenda," she said.

State Sen. Karin Housley in front of her State Fair booth.
State Sen. Karin Housley speaks in front of her State Fair booth about her U.S. Senate campaign with supporters John and Nancy Jensen of Falcon Heights last Thursday.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

On another big issue, Housley and Smith agree the cost of health care is hurting Minnesotans.

They disagree on what to do about it.

Smith talks a lot about the need to bring down prescription drug prices. And she told visitors to the Farmers Union booth that insurance companies should not be allowed to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage than healthy people.

"Imagine that you have diabetes and an insurance company can say, 'We're not going to cover you because that's an example of a pre-existing condition and that is what the Trump administration is doing right now. I just think that's wrong."

Housley says the solution lies in allowing more competition and scrapping government requirements about what health plans must cover.

"I think the government is questioning the intelligence of Minnesotans here because we, in whatever we do, we make educated decisions. And I know the people of Minnesota would welcome that opportunity to pick and choose which options they would like for their health insurance."

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