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Franken catching heat for stating the obvious in South Dakota

Republicans say Al Franken inadvertently handed them the ammo they’ll need to take out South Dakota’s Democratic representative this fall, simply by inadvertently stating the obvious.

WASHINGTON — I tried to come up with a less-snarky headline. I really did. But how else to describe a growing… well, controversy’s not the right word, is it?

Here’s the backstory: Franken attended an Oglala Lakota Nation Powwow on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota late last week, partially in a fact-finding role for his work on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee but mostly as a favor to Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, an embattled House Democrat in a fairly Republican district.

The point of Franken’s remarks, said a spokesperson for his PAC, was that it matters who controls Congress. But it’s how he said it that Republicans are seizing on.

Here’s the summary from the Rapid City Journal, with the bit that has people in a tizzy in bold:

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Franken said he was in South Dakota to help Herseth Sandlin at the polls in what promises to be a tough mid-term election for Democrats. Despite their different voting record on such issues as health care reform and cap-and-trade legislation, Franken said, he is a supporter of hers.

“I think she’s a great leader, and I really believe in her,” he said. “She has voted differently than I voted on a couple of things, but we need to be able to have somebody here in South Dakota who’s going to vote for Speaker Pelosi, not for Speaker Boehner.”

Apparently, it’s bad politics to state the obvious like that.

It’s a point of pride for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to not be concerned about her poll numbers, which hover in the upper 20s to mid 30s. But vulnerable Democratic incumbents — especially in districts that voted for John McCain over Barack Obama — are more likely to. Walt Minnick in Idaho, for one, has publicly waffled about whether he’d even vote for Pelosi, something that’s usually an automatic yes.

Republicans have made an issue of trying to link Democrats to their likely “first vote” in the 112th Congress, to choose a speaker, and in so doing link all sorts of conservative Dems to that “San Francisco liberal” who currently serves in that position.

Ergo, according to The Hotline’s Tim Sahd, Franken really stepped in it.

Republican Kristi Noem, he said, “has attempted to link Herseth Sandlin to Pelosi in the past, and we bet these comments will end up in a TV ad in the near future. “We also bet Franken won’t be showing up as a surrogate in too many more GOP-leaning House CDs this fall.”

Conservative Minnesota blogger Luke Hellier asked rhetorically: “What do I have to do to get Sen Franken to campaign for Tim Walz?”

Your humble correspondent would like to interject briefly to express his doubts that this tactic will work.

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That’s because, while Pelosi’s ratings are bad, congressional Republicans’ numbers are just as bad or even worse. Logically then, one could inflict serious damage on any Republican running for Congress by stating that, once elected, they’d be a Republican in Congress.