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Update: Fallout from Bachmann’s interview prompts more funds for her foe, a censure call and a new write-in opponent

By Doug Grow | Monday, Oct. 20, 2008
The reviews keep pouring in on Rep.

Rep. Michele Bachmann
Rep. Michele Bachmann

The reviews keep pouring in on Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Friday night appearance on “Hardball.”

So far, they don’t seem to be too positive for the 6th District Republican incumbent in her race against Democratic candidate El Tinklenberg.

Not only did Bachmann’s performance put more than $740,000 — and counting — into Tinklenberg’s coffers, but now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says that it will spend $1 million in support of Tinklenberg.  That’s an amazing sum, given the fact that less than two weeks ago, the DCCC was offering no support to Tinklenberg.

DCCC ads will start running Tuesday.  Even before Bachmann’s television appearance, the Tinklenberg campaign had purchased its first metro-area ad buys. Those ads were to begin during news programming starting tonight. With his newfound support, Tinklenberg will be able to make ad buys up to Election Day.

Campaign spokesman John Wodele announced this afternoon that the campaign has purchased $188,000 in network and cable television time, $52,000 in Twin Cities radio and $20,000 in St. Cloud radio. More buys are being made.

In other developments, a St. John’s University professor of clinical psychology, Aubrey Immelman, announced that he has filed to run as a write-in candidate in the 6th District race, which stretches north and northwest of the Twin Cities area.

Immelman, who got 14 percent of the vote when he ran in the primary against Bachmann in September, is making an unusual request.

“I’m asking Democrats NOT to vote for me,” he said. “I want this to be a referendum on Michele Bachmann.”  In effect, he wants Democrats and independents to vote for Tinklenberg, and moderate Republicans to vote for him as a protest, rather than for Bachmann.

It should be noted Immelman was a big supporter of DFLer Patty Wetterling, who lost to Bachmann two years ago. Still, he describes himself as a moderate who “leans to Republican.”

He believes the area includes thousands of Republicans who share his belief that “Bachmann is an embarrassment to the 6th District.”

Meantime, a website — — has collected more than 47,000 names on a petition calling for the Congress to “censure” Bachmann for her comments on the “Hardball” interview.

For her part, Bachmann continued to back off her statements during an interview Monday morning on KMSP-TV, Channel 9. In that interview, Bachmann said her comments were “completely misconstrued.”

“I did not suggest the word ‘anti-American,’ ” she said in the Channel 9 interview. “I said the media should look into (Obama’s) views.”

Bachmann also said that it was the host of “Hardball,” Chris Matthews, who first used the phrase “anti-American” in her controversial interview.

Bachmann was to team up at 5:30 p.m. today with a more-friendly interview on a nationally syndicated conservative talk radio program hosted by Michael Reagan, son of the late President Ronald Reagan.

One of the outcomes of the “Hardball” interview is that it may lead to closer examination of Bachmann’s political friendships.

For example, up until now, a story about her relationship with Frank Vennes, a major figure in the Tom Petters scandal, has been advanced only by the online publication The Minnesota Independent and reporter Karl Bremer.

Bremer has reported that Bachmann wrote a letter supporting Vennes’ effort to receive a presidential pardon for his 1987 conviction on federal money laundering, fiream sales and cocaine distribution charges. Vennes also has been a major contributor to Bachmann’s political campaigns since 2005.

Bachmann withdrew her letter of support for the pardon when Vennes’ home was raided last month by federal agents in connection with the fraud investigation of Petters.

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.