Assessing Bachmann-Graves debates: How they differ on the issues

DLF challenger Jim Graves and Rep. Michele Bachmann from their first debate on Oct. 30 in St. Cloud.

“I certainly do stand by those letters because what we know is that terrorism continues to remain a very real threat in the United States,” she said. “The Muslim Brotherhood is a violent organization and there is a spill-over effect between these various violent militia groups.”

Graves, as he did over the summer, criticized the statement.

“There is nothing more important in this country than [for] the federal government to protect its people,” he said. “But we don’t need to polarize, we don’t need to antagonize, we don’t need to throw mud, especially when it’s uncalled for.”

The Bachmann and Graves campaigns have noticeably different expectations for Tuesday night. Chase Kroll, Bachmann’s campaign manager, said straight up: “I think we’re going to win, I think it’s going to be a solid victory.”

Bachmann’s people are right to be confident: Public polling generally gives Bachmann a good-sized lead in the race. Bachmann has outspent Graves, by his count, by 12-to-1, and nearly every voter in the district knows who she is. And after redistricting, the 6th District is the most Republican-leaning district in the state.

For his part, Graves said his campaign has some benchmarks it needs to hit to pull an upset victory:

  • Two weeks ago, internal polls showed 68 percent name ID for Graves. After the debates, Graves said he thinks that number will jump to about 80 percent on Election Day, which is around where the campaign wants it.
  • Graves wants to pull about 7 or 8 percent of Republicans, and touts the endorsement of former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson (who has long been endorsing Democratic candidates and causes).
  • And Graves disputes the public polls as undercounting voters who don’t use landline telephones — he polls well with younger voters, who tend to use only wireless phones, and he’s working to build turnout among those voters, appearing in St. Cloud last weekend with high-profile surrogates (including former President Bill Clinton on Sunday night).

 “The best-case scenario is the people would elect me,” Graves said in a Saturday interview. “If the people decide otherwise, I respect that as well.”

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 11/05/2012 - 02:45 pm.

    Good luck to Jim Graves

    The people who support and vote for Bachmann only care about “moral issues” : abortion and gay rights. Since these voters place the candidates position on those two issues in first and second place, nothing anyone says or does will displace her from this catbird seat unless they “outflank” her on these two issues by being even more extreme than she is. I’d call these voters “dog in the manger” voters because, like the dog in the manger who snarls at the cattle so they cannot get to their hay, these voters are obsessed with making political matters which are are inherently nonpolitical and neither they nor their candidate can do anything about it even if they had the power and votes could pass all the laws to their satisfaction. It’s so sad really that such atavistic attitudes and thinking should continue to prevail with the challenges facing this country and the planet in the 21st century. I hope Jim Graves finally retires Bachmann but I’ve become resigned to accepting that she will hold onto political office until she wants to retire from politics.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 11/05/2012 - 10:55 pm.

    Anyone who watched

    “At Issue” this past Sunday has got to be impressed with Jim Graves if they indeed are honest with themselves. Mr. Graves responses on questions posed were eloquent, decisive, thoughtful, and doable. In contrast, Michelle Bachman’s responses were off task to the point of Mr. Hauser’s having to redirect her back to the topic/question at hand continually in order to get her off her old hat mantra of bashing Obama that she has been using over and over again since her flawed presidential effort.

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