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Bachmann, Graves introduce Graves to voters — in their own ways

MinnPost photo by Devin Henry
Congressional candidate Jim Graves speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Monticello on Tuesday night.

Graves doesn’t back away from the legislation Bachmann has badgered him about, but he said his support comes with caveats:

  • The Affordable Care Act is a “process, not a destination,” and more needs to be done to bring down health care costs. “If there’s something better, I would rescind it,” he told MinnPost.
  • The stimulus bill should have focused more on investing in capital and infrastructure projects. It was an overly-politicized package, but, “in principle, the stimulus wasn’t a bad thing.”
  • On the bank bailout, “the Bush administration did the right thing to stabilize the markets,” he said. “Sometimes you need to hold your nose and do what’s right.”

And Graves, who professed to the Monticello crowd that he’s a proponent of a small government that should “only do what we cannot do for ourselves,” said his professional life should be enough proof that Bachmann’s “Big Spending Jim” moniker is inaccurate.

“The last thing I am is a big spender,” he said. “It’s been a very difficult time for all of us in business and the last thing you do to get through this kind of recession is be a big spender.”

GOP aims at business background

But Republicans are trying to use his time in business against him.

The state Republican Party put out a laundry list of  what it called questionable business dealings from Graves’ past last Friday, ranging from a lawsuit with a former subcontractor for a construction job to the forced unionization of a group of employees.

Rep. Michele Bachmann
MinnPost photo by Devin HenryRep. Michele Bachmann speaking to supporters and volunteers at her St. Cloud office on Monday night.

The allegation the Bachmann campaign seized upon, however, had to do with a line in an online Graves biography where he identified himself as a member of the United Way of Central Minnesota board of directors, a spot Graves never held. He acknowledges now that he served on a committee instead.

For his part, Graves said the issue was simply a misprint and he’s since corrected the biography online. The Minnesota GOP did not return calls for comment.

Shades of ‘Taxin’ Tarryl’

“Big Spending Jim” is, in essence, a sequel to Bachmann’s line of attack against her 2010 opponent, “Taxin’ Tarryl Clark,” a state senator.

In a series of ads released that fall, Bachmann used Clark’s support for a series of tax increases against her, including one literal tie-breaking vote on a doomed $435 million tax hike in 2010. The ads charged Clark with supporting tax increases on everything from Crayon sales and gasoline to the deep-fried bacon and beer served at the Minnesota State Fair. Bachmann beat Clark by almost 13 points that November.

 To a certain extent, it’s going to be harder for Bachmann to brand Graves than it was Clark because she had a record Bachmann could point to, University of Minnesota political science professor Kathryn Pearson said. Graves, a political rookie, has no bill sponsorships or voting history to use against him.

But the message Bachmann has been pushing — that Graves would support typical Democratic priorities in Washington — is one that should play well in the conservative-leaning 6th District.

“[Bachmann is] trying to remind voters as frequently as possible that he is a Democrat running in a Republican district,” Pearson said.  

Kroll said Graves’ lack of a voting record isn’t slowing down the campaign’s messaging against him.

“He hasn’t necessarily cast a vote for one thing or the other, but he has said that he supports all of those things … which I think portends to the type of person he would be if he ever had power in Congress,” Kroll said. “The more people get to know the real Jim Graves, the more people will break away from him and support a known commodity like Michele Bachmann.”

Bachmann undoubtedly remains the favorite in the race: the demographics in the new 6th District greatly favor Republicans, she’s a prolific fundraiser and she won’t need to spend any time introducing herself to voters. Major political prognosticators say she has an edge in the race, even if it’s not as much of a sure thing as in the past.

But Graves said his biography will appeal to moderates and disenchanted Republicans across the district — as long as he’s the one writing it.

“We know through conclusive polling that if people know who I am, what I stand for, my policy positions, we win this election,” he said. “All we need to do is let people know who I am and what I stand for.”

Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by mark wallek on 10/11/2012 - 10:10 am.

    Little robots

    After hearing Bachmanns attack ad on the “big spender” I was wondering if she had litle robots supporting her, or if the chosen just have a hard time reading a script and acting natural. For having such a large warchest, she’s producing some very amatuer ads. Now, someone will no doubt say that the amaturish nature of the ad is planned. OK. And Lance Armstrong never doped.

  2. Submitted by James wallace on 10/11/2012 - 10:29 am.

    Silly Commercials

    Bachmann’s commercials about Jim Graves’ “big spending” and “pal of Nancy Pelosi” are more of her vintage bat-crazy stuff. How could he do all that big spending when he hasn’t been in office? If he’s that effective out of office, maybe we ought to give him a shot instead of the nutso one who thinks vaccines cause mental retardation and that there’s a giant Muslim conspiracy. We really haven’t the luxury of time to indulge in that nonsense.

    Graves hasn’t signed Grover Norquist’s “pledge” to never ever raise taxes — even to preserve America’s credit rating or address the deficit. It’s time we turned out the obstructionists and hired people who are focused on getting things done, not hewing to a party line. Co-operation and compromise are not dirty words. They are the business of America.

  3. Submitted by Adam Miller on 10/11/2012 - 10:35 am.

    I saw one of the Bachmann ads last night

    It was laughably bad. They used a clip of Graves on Ed Schultz’s show to demonstrate Graves’s “agreement” with Obamacare. Except it was obvious from the clip that they cut Graves off just before he was going to list the ways in which he disagrees with it. Do they think voters are dumb?

    Of course, the rest of the ad goes on to assert the Obamacare is a “big spending” program, which is also at odds with the best available estimates that say it reduces the deficit (in part via the “cuts to Medicare” Romney’s trying to hang on Obama).

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/11/2012 - 10:53 am.


    Whether the line in Graves’ online biography was written by him or by a staffer or campaign aide might make some difference, but either way, Michele Bachmann chastising an opponent for not telling the truth is both sad and amusing. She continues to be an embarrassment to the state, and as a Congressional Representative, to the country, as well.

  5. Submitted by David Frenkel on 10/11/2012 - 11:10 am.

    Negative ads

    It has well proven that negative ads do work and Bachmann is taking the advice of her ad team. People are not looking for substance just sound bites to help them make voting decisions.

  6. Submitted by Chelle Blakely on 10/11/2012 - 11:16 am.

    Nancy Pelosi is the Devil

    I found the ad with Nancy Pelosi disturbing. I haven’t heard much about Pelosi in the last two years, she has no connection to Minnesota, no connection to Graves, yet Bachmann is using her to smear Graves? Is Pelosi really that evil? Is she that much of a threat to Bachmann supporters? Would she be as scary if she were a man?

  7. Submitted by Bruce Bednarek on 10/11/2012 - 11:35 am.

    First, why is it that it

    First, why is it that it appears that all of the Bachmann TV campaign spots are attack ads whereas the Graves ads appear to be mostly informative in nature? Is it because Bachman only knows one approach to communication, ie; attack, hate, vicious, no compromise – run down your opponent and that way you don’t have to portray what little you can or are willing to do?

    Second, hopefully Mr. Kroll’s statement “The more people get to know the real Jim Graves, the more people will break away from him and support a known commodity like Michele Bachmann” will prove correct in the reverse in that the more people get to know Jim Graves they will shy away from the known characteristics of Michele Bachmann which are embarrassing to Minnesota.

    Finally the statement in the opening paragraphs above “In Minnesota, Bachmann really needs no definition; 88 percent of likely voters (statewide, not just in the 6th District) surveyed by Public Policy Polling last week said they had an opinion of her” – hopefully that opinion will bring the necessary change to the 6th disctrict.

  8. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 10/11/2012 - 11:54 am.

    United way

    Are the conservatives bashing Graves because he was a member/director or whatever of United
    Way or because he “lied.” Do they think United
    Way is some kind of liberal-communist-socialist-leftwing organization? I’m confused. If that’s the beef, why wouldn’t republicans support just this kind of organization, privately funded?

  9. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 10/11/2012 - 04:15 pm.

    I’ve met Graves

    He seems like a nice guy.

  10. Submitted by Joe Musich on 10/11/2012 - 08:23 pm.

    The merits for work success

    Bachman’s job is to be an elected representative. How much has she spent over her time in office to gain the job in relation to the rewards she has brought home to the 6th ? If she has spent more to be elected to this job in relation to the returns for the expense I would suggest she is not very good at money management. I does not matter where the money came from. What matters is the expense has not been effective. I I lived in the 6th I would be looking at her expense to effectivness ratio.

  11. Submitted by Chance Gardener on 10/11/2012 - 10:04 pm.


    Bachmann is completely without any substance. She cannot run on her record because has none! Pelosi is not even the Speaker any more, and Graves has probably never met her.

    End the embarrassment. I plead with the 6th district: End it now, the rest of the country is laughing at us because you keep sending this sad person to Congress.

  12. Submitted by Chance Gardener on 10/11/2012 - 10:14 pm.


    Any chance you could introduce us to the real Jim Graves? An article that really tells his positions on the issues of today would be helpful.

  13. Submitted by jody rooney on 10/12/2012 - 12:43 pm.

    I think if you are not in the anyone but Bachmann camp

    you clearly deserve what you get.

    I contacted Senator Klobuchar’s office and Representative Bachmann’s office about an issue I was having with an agency. I have yet to hear from Bachmann’s office and the Senator resolved the issue in 5 days.

    Frankly I want someone who can work on 6th district issues as well as national issues. With the exception of the Stillwater bridge I don’t know that I have seen anything of district importance that she has worked on.

    Need I mention the Swiss citizen thing again – I mean really how dumb can you get.

    • Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 10/14/2012 - 01:42 pm.

      Stillwater bridge

      I don’t think she did anything on the Stillwater Bridge, at least nothing I can find. I do agree with you though she does not respond to 6th Dustrict voters, and I am not voting for her again.

  14. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 10/14/2012 - 01:19 pm.


    I wouldn’t vote for Bachmann again for any reason what so ever. Her ads are demeaning to anyone who watches them. She must think we are all stupid. I hope everybody in the 6th feel the sameway I do. I actually think she is nuts. Some of the stuff that spews out of her mouth are insane.

  15. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 10/14/2012 - 01:46 pm.


    AS a member of the NRA, I did ask Graves about his feelings on Gun Control and he aswered immediately. I feel very comfortable knowing that he will oppose gun control, and hunters and gun owners in the 6th don’t need to about Graves. I am voting for him and hope Big Mouth Bachmann goes away.

    • Submitted by Max Galati on 10/18/2012 - 08:09 pm.

      Gun-Grabbing Graves won’t get my vote.

      I’d be very interested to hear what Graves said to you on guns. But then again, actions speak louder than words. I just found out he bans firearms from his Minneapolis hotels – even with a permit! How can we actually think Jim Graves will vote pro-gun in Congress if he disarms his guests, and won’t even recognize their God-given right to self defense in his own establishments?

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