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Presidents, local sports and negative campaigning

Two of the five living U.S presidents will be in Minnesota this weekend, messing with our football games. First, there will be Barack Obama, who will be speaking on behalf of DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton on Saturday at a rally at the University of Minnesota. As Lindsey Seavert of WCCO points out, this will be at the exact time when a Golden Gophers game is going on. “On Saturday, the crowds coming into the University of Minnesota won’t just be cheering for the maroon and gold, but also for the red, white and blue,” which has got to be eligible for some sort of award for corny phrases used in broadcast television.

And then, on Sunday, Bill Clinton will be in Minnesota to support Tarryl Clark in her race against 6th District Rep. Michele Bachmann. Additionally, according to MinnPost’s Derek Wallbank, he’ll be watching the Vikings-Packers game. We like to imagine Clinton wearing one of those horned helmets with golden braids attached, but we suspect that’s unlikely. Seavert doesn’t seem to have covered this story, so we’re going to have to come up with a phrase for her: On Sunday, President Clinton will go from tax hikings to Favre and the Vikings. Hmmm. That actually sounds sort of partisan, as it’s Bachmann that has been accusing Clark of being tax-hike hungry. Let’s try a phrase from Clark’s camp: On Sunday, Clinton goes from battling Tea Party spin to watching the Vikings battle with pigskin.

It’s hard to discuss the Bachmann/Clark race without a little partisanship slipping through. After all, aside from being an enormously costly race, it has also been a pretty negative one, as Allen Costantini of KARE11 details. Its price tag is about $6 million to $7 million on Clark’s end and $10 million on Bachmann’s (with roughly half of Bachmann’s war chest coming from “across the country in the 3rd quarter of 2010 alone.”) The story comments on the negativity in the campaigns, which have featured volleys of attack ads and Internet campaigns: Hamline University political expert David Schultz says of the ads that “Bachmann … has always been more of a negative campaigner than she has been a positive one. Second, the Democrats, I think, especially Clark, are getting somewhat desperate at this point. They have not been able to budge and move her in the polls.

And while we’re on the subject of negative campaigning, let’s look at the race for governor. According to Paul Schmelzer of Minnesota Independent, IP candidate Tom Horner has gone negative in his latest ad, “somewhat.” The ad represents GOP candidate Tom Emmer as an elephant crowded into a kitchen, and shows Mark Dayton as a donkey looking on disinterestedly as an eye-rolling man goes through the “help wanted” section of his paper. In truth, the ad isn’t all that negative — it’s consistent with Horner’s campaign, which has always been that the other guys are too extreme, and he’s comfortably in the middle.

For a taste of really going nagative, we need to look at the DFL, which has raised the issue of Emmer’s finances. According to them, Emmer has taken out seven mortgages on his home in six years, totalling $1.6 million. Their reasons for bringing Emmer’s home financing into the public light? According to Andy Birkey of Minnesota Independent, it’s because Emmer has campaigned extensively with the slogan “live within your means.”

Of course, even that’s nothing compared with the dirt that’s been heaped upon Dayton in the past few weeks. He was the subject of an especially pernicious smear campaign, which was mostly ignored by the local press, as it lacked any evidence. We won’t deign to discuss the details, and neither does Dayton, but he obliquely references it in his newest ad, which can also be found on Minnesota Independent. “The Republicans can’t beat Mark Dayton on the issues,” the ad says, “so they’re trying to destroy him with last-minute personal smears and gutter politics.”

And what of the issues? Well, there’s an ad from the Republican Governors Association that actually manages to pass Pat Kessler’s Reality Check on WCCO and gets the rarest of all all-caps verdicts: FAIR. The ad, which can be viewed here, sums up Dayton and Horner as follows: “If you support Obama’s health care plan and think we should raise taxes to balance the budget, then your choices are Mark Dayton and Tom Horner.” And of Emmer? “But if you oppose Obama’s health care plan and think we should balance the budget by cutting taxes instead of raising taxes, then you have one good choice: Tom Emmer.” As Kessler points out, Emmer really is running on a platform of budget cuts and cutting taxes, while Dayton and Horner actually will raise taxes. So if that’s your only issue, there it is, put as simply as possible.

But, for many, taxes aren’t the only issue — there are social issues to consider as well. But, as Andy Birkey points out, Emmer has been steering clear of these subjects while campaigning. “My campaign has been entirely focused on the economy and jobs, but there’s no question, I have a record on my position on these issues in my six years in the legislature. People know exactly what that is,” Birkey quotes Emmer as saying. And Birkey sums up Emmer’s record: “[H]e led the charge to amend the constitution to bar gay marriage, tried to prevent same-sex couples from using surrogate mothers, and called an AIDS outreach program to gay men ‘disgusting discourse.’ “

It will be interesting to see how the election plays out — the last senatorial battle was such a circus, with its protracted recount and accusations of voter fraud. Actually, it turns out some of those accusations were true: Hennepin County has charged six people with voter fraud, according to the Associated Press. All six were convicted felons who went ahead and voted anyway. Now, it was a tight election, but Franken didn’t win by six, so these felons wouldn’t have pushed the result one way or the other. Additionally, there’s no way to know they voted for Franken; there is exactly one vote by a convicted felon in which we know whom he voted for. That’s the vote of Eric S. Willems, who cast his ballot for Coleman.

In arts: Hey! It’s more election stuff! If your issue of choice isn’t, say, taxes, but arts instead, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts has put out a handy guide to candidates. And while we’re discussing the arts and elections, local singer/songwriter Jeremy Messersmith will be opening for Obama on Saturday (via the OIM/OMG blog), which means Messersmith has had a very exciting few weeks, because a song he wrote about “Star Wars” went viral recently.

In sports: According to Karla Hult of KARE11, the St. Paul Saints have started pushing for a new stadium. If they can raise enough money, perhaps they can have it ready in time for the next election, so that one of our former presidents can schedule a rally nearby while the Saints are playing.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/22/2010 - 11:20 am.

    Say bunny?

    If I’m not mistaken, ‘disgusting discourse’ Tom Emmer referred to is a publication from the MN aids program that once featured a can of Crisco on the cover to advertise a story that had nothing to do with mom’s fried chicken.

    It also contained legal advice such as “If you’re a teacher, or work with children do not volunteer that information to the police” for men arrested for indecent activities in public places …I think most reasonable would rate Emmer’s description MORE THAN FAIR.

  2. Submitted by Brian Simon on 10/22/2010 - 11:35 am.

    “On Sunday, President Clinton will go from tax hikings to Favre and the Vikings. ”

    That won’t do at all. I think what you meant to say was:

    “On Sunday, President Clinton will go from tax hikings to watching Packers axe Vikings.”

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 10/22/2010 - 11:42 am.

    “Emmer really is running on a platform of budget cuts and cutting taxes, while Dayton and Horner actually will raise taxes. So if that’s your only issue, there it is, put as simply as possible.”

    If you believe adding employees from state & local government to the ranks of the unemployed will be good for the state, Emmer is your man. If you think that might be detrimental to the economy, you might want to consider Dayton or Horner.

  4. Submitted by Josh McCabe on 10/22/2010 - 12:47 pm.

    Swiftie, that was not on par with your usual attempts to divert and confuse. Try again, maybe?

    Brian, that was exactly right. We should all be watching Great Britain right now to see how the attempt to cut their way out of a massive deficit actually works. Perhaps it will. The middle class is resilient and far less inclined to complain about hardships than the upper class. Especially in Britain, this class of people quietly shoulder the load when things are tough. They always have. BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT OR FAIR!!!!

    Still, leaving questions of fairness and who got us into this mess aside, it’s hard to see how taking away jobs from productive working people and putting them on welfare could possibly help, but maybe the social engineer of the brave new world Tom Swift can enlighten us. What’s that Swift? You’ve got something unrelated to bring up? You prefer to pretend it’s a different question? Maybe you can explain how we can cut government without laying off lots and lots of people. Say what now? You don’t care about the troubles of others, even when it might be you next? Let’s hear it, FastOne.

  5. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 10/22/2010 - 03:22 pm.

    This scenario speaks volumes…

    Democrats have the President and former presidents out campaigning for them.

    On the other side, republicans prefer their ex-presidents to stay in their Rip Van Winkle slumber. What’s more, even dead Presidents (like Reagan) are hardly ever mentioned any more.

    I sure miss the two Georges, what could they be up to now?… I know the older one loves to foolishly jump out of planes, and junior only loves to wear a pilot’s flight jacket and strut.

  6. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 10/22/2010 - 04:39 pm.

    Well, I saw the ad and the misleading part is that the intended message clearly is that Dayton/Horner would balance the budget SOLELY by raising taxes. Carefully worded not to say that, but that’s what they want the listener to hear, since a large majority favors the actual Dayton/Horner approach of combined tax increase/spending cut. Part of the propaganda skill set, of course, is getting the listener to hear something that you’re not actually saying, so you can fib without getting caught. So I would classify it as misleading, at best.

  7. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 10/22/2010 - 05:10 pm.

    6 cases of voter fraud in Hennepin county? But Minnesota Majority’s crappy data said there were hundreds! Since it turned out in Ramsey County that the few real cases had already been spotted by election workers before they go the crappy data, might that be the case in Hennepin too?

    And interesting all six were felons whose rights hadn’t been restored yet. Did they honestly think their rights had been restored? So if the corrections system makes a point of informing felons when their rights are restored, or if we simplify it so once you’re out of prison, you can vote, there would be zero cases of voter fraud.

    But we’re going to have tea party poll watchers all over the urban precincts. When they find nothing, they’ll just think they have to look with more zeal next time.

  8. Submitted by Rod Loper on 10/25/2010 - 09:02 am.

    Why is there so little coverage of papers in
    Bachmann’s district endorsing Tarryl Clark?
    They should know her best.

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