The Christmas card lists just got shorter for the Pawlentys and the Bachmanns. Watching last night’s FoxNews debate between the Minnesota twins, Alexander Burns of Politico writes: “Pawlenty first pushed back on the idea that he’d questioned Bachmann’s health, saying: ‘I have not questioned Congresswoman Bachmann’s migraine headaches … The only headache I hear about on the campaign trail is the headache’ Obama’s given the country. ‘She’s done wonderful things in her life, absolutely wonderful things,’ Pawlenty said, then dropping the hammer: ‘It’s an undisputable fact that her record of accomplishment and results is nonexistent.’ Offered the opportunity to respond, Bachmann unloaded on Pawlenty’s record as governor: ‘When you were governor in Minnesota, you implemented cap and trade in our state and you praised the unconstitutional individual mandate … You said the era of small government is over. That sounds a lot more like Barack Obama if you ask me.’ But wait — there’s more! Pawlenty shot back, intensifying his attack and showing an aggressiveness that’s been largely absent from his campaign to date. ‘She’s got a record of misstating and making false statements,’ Pawlenty said of Bachmann, continuing to hammer her slim record in Congress: ‘If that’s your view of effective leadership with results, please stop, because you’re killing us.’ “
The AP story goes this way: “Bachmann said Pawlenty pushed an environmental overhaul similar to the Democrats’ effort, a mandate for health care coverage and for bigger government spending. ‘That sounds a lot like Barack Obama to me,’ she said. Bachmann also said Pawlenty forced her to choose between her anti-tax beliefs and her opposition to abortion. When she was in the state legislature, she supported a bill that both raised taxes on cigarettes and strengthened restrictions on abortion rights. ‘I believe you can get money wrong, but you can’t get life wrong,’ she said. ‘It was a choice,’ she said. ‘The governor put us in that box and I chose to protect human life.’ “
The Strib teams Rachel Stassen-Berger with Kevin Diaz for the big weekend in Iowa. The first piece says: “Bachmann, talking to about 100 workers at a print shop in Clive, brings the artful flash and passion of a tent revival meeting: A big bus, lights, cameras, sophisticated sound system, a ready-made riser with packing boxes stacked behind her and an American flag snapping in the background. ‘I’m a real person,’ the three-term congresswoman tells the gathered crowd. ‘I’m a mom. I’m not a politician.’ Despite a decade in elective office, Bachmann revels in her outsider image, casting her anti-Washington message in starkly personal terms. Pawlenty carries the earnest appeal of a Sunday school teacher. Low-key, amiable, the former governor dresses in jeans and slightly wrinkled button-down shirts that would fit as comfortably in the crowd as in front of it. He travels in an unmarked RV and ambles off it accompanied only by a few longtime staffers. Where Bachmann’s rhetoric comes in fast and hot, Pawlenty’s is set at a lower burn. At a picnic Tuesday, Bachmann ignited the crowd within seconds, while Pawlenty garnered his first major applause line 10 minutes in.” Was that when he said, “Good-bye”?
The latest CNN poll was not kind to either of our aspirants. Baird Helgeson of the Strib says: “Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann slipped in a new CNN presidential poll released Thursday, both falling further behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. … In a head-to-head matchup, Bachmann loses to President Barack Obama 51 percent to 45 percent, according to the poll. Obama and Romney are in a dead heat, with the president getting 49 percent and Romney winning 48 percent. CNN did not test Pawlenty against the president. Among those who identified themselves as Republicans, Pawlenty got just 1 percent. Only 4 percent of women preferred Bachmann.” What’s the opposite of a “gaudy” number?
The PiPress’ Bill Salisbury files a story about prognostications prior to Saturday’s straw poll: “The real contest is between the Minnesotans and possibly [Ron] Paul, a libertarian with a relatively small but intense following, said Doug Gross, a Des Moines lawyer and veteran Republican strategist who managed Romney’s 2008 campaign in Iowa. The former Massachusetts governor won the straw poll four years ago. ‘Bachmann will likely win,’ Gross predicted, echoing the betting of many political insiders. The 6th District congresswoman from West Lakeland Township has a lot going for her. She is:
• An Iowa native.
• The hottest GOP celebrity on the national stage right now.
• A prolific fundraiser of small contributions.
• Backed by intensely loyal followings in the tea party and among religious conservatives.”
Scott Bauer of the AP says the recall of Scott Walker in Wisconsin is problematic: “Wisconsin Democratic Party activist Sachin Chheda said ideally, the recall election would coincide with the 2012 general election, when voters will flock to the polls to choose a president and a replacement for Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl, who is retiring. But Reid Magney, a spokesman for the state’s election oversight board, cautioned that several factors, including the time needed to check petition signatures and delays due to legal challenges, mean there is no guarantee the elections would coincide. Kohl is mentioned as a possible candidate to run against Walker, should there be a recall, as are former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who Walker defeated in November.”
Another gay harassment suit has been filed against Anoka-Hennepin schools. Madeleine Baran of MPR says: “The lawsuit, filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), says school officials failed to intervene to help a 15-year-old student at Jackson Middle School who was being harassed and physically assaulted by fellow students because of her sexual orientation and perceived gender nonconformity. Executive director Kate Kendell said the district’s actions violated the student’s rights under the U.S. Constitution, Title IX and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The center is also representing five other students in a similar suit and will ask to have the two cases consolidated. ‘The facts are chillingly similar and also heartbreaking,’ she said. ‘These are students who were called all sorts of names (and) faced a daily barrage of anti-gay slurs directed at them.’ ”
Scott LeDoux has died. The PiPress story says: “LeDoux, who sparred with some of the greatest boxers of all time, including Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Leon Spinks, died today of complications of his long battle against ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 62. LeDoux, of Coon Rapids, had been battling ALS since being diagnosed in 2008. Nicknamed the ‘Fighting Frenchman,’ LeDoux’s boxing career spanned 10 years. He twice was named Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Champion and twice fought for the heavyweight boxing title.”
Vegas sees no better than a one-game improvement for the 2011 Minnesota Vikings. Johnny Detroit of Pregame.com writes: “Cantor Gaming is becoming the big player in Las Vegas in regards to sports betting and already has released lines on all 256 regular season NFL games. Here is the list of point spreads for all sixteen Minnesota Vikings regular season games: Minnesota +9.0 at San Diego, Tampa Bay (PK) at Minnesota, Detroit +2.0 at Minnesota, Minnesota +5.0 at Kansas City, Arizona +6.0 at Minnesota, Minnesota +6.5 at Chicago, Green Bay -6.5 at Minnesota, Minnesota -3.5 at Carolina, Minnesota +10.5 at Green Bay, Oakland +2.5 at Minnesota, Minnesota +7.0 at Atlanta, Denver +5.5 at Minnesota, Minnesota +4.0 at Detroit, New Orleans -1.0 at Minnesota, Minnesota +2.0 at Washington and Chicago -2.0 at Minnesota. Using the Cantor predictions as a model, you would expect the Vikings to end up with five wins, nine losses and two games a coin flip. As a bettor if you concede the underdog games at TD or higher, your decision to bet over or under would be based off whether the Vikings could win the close games to end out the season at home versus the Saints and Bears and on the road against the Redskins.” I have almost no idea what any of that means.