Audience roars in laughter when Bachmann claims she doesn’t do political speeches (by Faiz Shakir)
Jim Graves is a 58-year-old self-made Minnesota businessman and grandfather of seven, still married to his high-school sweetheart, running against a symbol of unhinged hyperpartisanship in the halls of Congress. Bachmann’s bizarre presidential run only highlighted what an awkward fit she is for the common sense civility that characterizes “Minnesota Nice.”
But she’s never faced a truly competitive opponent, despite a string of narrow wins—and that’s changed this time around.
“I started my first company in a basement with $2,000 in the bank, and I’ve been able to create thousands of jobs,” says Graves, who started the mid-scale AmericInn hotel chain. “I’m a person who understands the economy and has built real businesses on Main Street. Now I want to give something back. I’ll be a good ambassador for the district. And you can juxtapose that against Michele Bachmann—someone who’s divisive and antagonistic, ridicules our president, and spreads fear and division.”
“My policy approach transcends political lines,” Graves says. “I’m a centrist, a libertarian when it comes to social issues—I don’t think government should be involved with personal lives. I really believe in separation of church and state. Bachmann wants to blur those lines—she would [replace] our democracy with a theocracy … She epitomizes everything that’s wrong with Congress and this country—a lack of civility, a lack of bipartisan or nonpartisan approach to problem solving.”
Polls show the race is now neck and neck—with 48 percent for Bachmann and 46 percent for Graves and the remaining still undecided, according to a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll. Crucially, independent voters now lean toward Graves by a 15-point margin. Now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is backing Graves in his campaign, showing it is very much in play.
But this is the most conservative district in Minnesota, compounded by redistricting. Moreover, Bachmann has been a successful conspiracy entrepreneur—raising millions of dollars in campaign donation by throwing out extreme statements—such as questioning how many fellow congressmen have “anti-American” views (to use one mild example)—and then fundraising off it by playing the victim.
“She makes these inflammatory comments for fundraising purposes,” Graves recognizes. “As soon as she says something outrageous, the money spigot opens up. I was just told she’s raised more than $20 million this race—that’s unbelievable in rural moderate Minnesota district. We’re more in the $2 million range—so she’s got a 10 to 1 advantage.”
But interestingly, Graves doesn’t connect his campaign to the current president. “My campaign isn’t an endorsement of President Obama’s first term in office,” Graves says. “I would have done some things differently than he did—I’m staying focused on doing what’s right for the people on the Sixth Congressional District.”
Graves believes the tipping point in the district was the combination of Bachmann’s presidential campaign creating embarrassment for constituents and a more recent self-inflicted scandal. “I think a turning point was Ms. Huma Abedin and the whole Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory. And when people in the district saw that Speaker Boehner and Senator McCain said this has no basis in reality, I think that woke people up here. That’s not what a person in Congress or especially a person on the intelligence committee should say.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) swung by a Chicago-area synagogue for a worship service on the eve of Yom Kippur last week, upsetting congregants and provoking one man to mount a campaign for her Democratic challenger before the end of the night.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Rabbi Michael Siegel of Anshe Emet Synagogue observed protocol by offering a customary greeting to Bachmann during the services. While elected officials are traditionally acknowledged during such events at the temple, the presence of the conservative Minnesota firebrand prompted particular displeasure.
Some reportedly walked out of the ceremony, while Gary Sircus, a 25-year member of Anshe Emet Synagogue, voiced more active opposition to Bachmann’s attendance.
"The holiness of the room and the holiness of the evening was greatly diminished for me, if not completely destroyed," said Sircus, according to the Tribune. “Our congregation values and embodies tolerance, compassion, respect for individual rights, intelligence, science — all of the things that I think Michele Bachmann stands against.”
Hours after storming out of the service, Sircus donated to Jim Graves, Bachmann’s Democratic opponent in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, and included a note.
"I felt that the best way to ‘honor’ Ms. Bachmann’s visit was to make a contribution to your campaign," he wrote to Graves. "Even though I do not vote in Minnesota, please do everything in your power to take away this evil woman’s soapbox."
The Graves campaign told the Tribune that it experienced a 400 percent growth in donations from the Chicago area last week, though it’s unclear if Sircus is to credit for this trend.
During a panel discussion about fact-checking at the National Press Club on Wednesday, Jim Drinkard, the Associated Press (AP) editor who oversees the wire service’s fact-checking work, said that the AP actually had to limit the number of lies they reported during the Republican debates:
We had to have a self-imposed Michele Bachmann quota in some of those debates.
After the session, Drinkard said that there wasn’t an actual numerical quota on Bachmann at the AP. It’s just that they literally could not keep pace with the number of lies she told and were worried that if the AP had gone back and vetted all of her claims that seemed a bit dubious, the result would “overload” the debate story.
Drinkard, who is apparently fond of massive understatements, added, “Often she was just more prone to statements that just didn’t add up.”
Democrats and progressives are making a concerted effort to rid Congress of some of its biggest tea party stars, the Republicans whom Democrats dream about defeating when they go to bed at night.
Interviews with Democrats, progressives and Republicans this week suggest their efforts aren’t likely to break through across the board but there’s a real chance Democrats will erase a couple of faces off the tea party Mt. Rushmore come November.
Rep. Joe Walsh - Illinois 08
Walsh is the liberals’ embodiment of the tea party freshman: brash, unpredictable and perhaps a little unhinged at times. He started out with an uphill climb after redistricting put him in a more Democratic district, and he didn’t do himself any favors when he decided to attack the war record of his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq.
Polling has shown Duckworth with a significant lead, and progressives who’ve rallied around removing Walsh from office are feeling pretty confident. Republicans seem less so — The Hill reported Wednesday that the NRCC has not reserved any airtime to protect Walsh.
Rep. Steve King - Iowa 05
If Walsh is the progressive caricature of the tea party freshman, King is the progressives’ dream conservative veteran. Prone to eyebrow-raising statements and patron saint of causes liberals love to hate — like making English the official language — King is proudly incendiary. When Mitt Romney endorsed him on the trail in Iowa, Democrats went wild, stating that just standing near King made Romney more extreme.
King is facing Democratic nominee Christie Vilsack, wife of Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former Iowa first lady and big name in the Hawkeye State. Vilsack has proven an able fundraiser and she’s had an assist from progressive groups on the ground.
Rep. Michele Bachmann — Minnesota 06
Before she ran for president, Bachmann was a number one dream defeat for Democrats and progressives. When she ascended to the presidential stage this year she only made progressive disdain for her worse. Where to begin, they say when asked about her: Bachmann’s impromptu backing of anti-vaccination conspiracies or her crusade to rid the government of terrorist spieshidden in the U.S. government?
Bachmann faces her toughest congressional opponent in recent memory in Democrat Jim Graves, a wealthy businessman who made his fortune in the hotel business. Like Duckworth and Vilsack, Graves has help from progressives and the national party. Internal polling and Graves’ bio continues to give Democrats hope, though even usually optimistic progressive observers admit this is an unphill climb for the left. Bachmann’s as popular among elements of the hard right as she is detested among elements of the left, and she’s been able to leverage her national name to build up a large warchest. That said, the idea that Bachmann’s in real trouble this November is catching on among the mainstream media and Bachmann’s fundraising emails are starting to sound more desperate.
Rep. Allen West — Florida 18
In many ways, West is the male Bachmann. His national profile among conservatives is beyond reproach, while his standing among the left is something considerably short of that. Happiest in the spotlight, West is a tea party freshman who’s fond of comparing President Obama to a slave owner. Tea partiers absolutely love him, and there’s been talk that he could make a run for Senate down the road.
Progressives hope to put an end to his political rise before it starts by defeating him at the end of this first term. It looks like a tall order. Democrat Patrick Murphy, a young newcomer to politics who raised enough money to draw support from the national party, can still pull in the big names to help out in the high-profile race. Bill Clinton was in the district for Murphy just the other week. And Democrats and their allied super PACs are spending big, though the DCCC recently canceled a week of ads.
During a conference call with evangelicals on Tuesday, Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) called upon “Christian warriors” and “Christian soldiers” to “stand our ground” against President Barack Obama, who he said is trying to ”remove any trace of religion from American life,” a message inspired by “Satan” himself.
Perry made the comments during a conference call with pastors and evangelicals nationwide, as first cited by Right Wing Watch. He was taking part in an ongoing religious campaign called “40 Days to Save America.” Other participants in the calls this week include Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), and even former Jack Abramoff co-conspirator Ralph Reed.
Introducing his guest, pastor Rick Scarborough, one of the “40 Days” organizers, credited the governor’s spirituality with ending the Texas drought. (Update: The Texas drought is actually still going on.) But it was Perry himself who did the real preaching.
In audio published to the campaign’s website (embedded below), Perry claims that the constitutional provision which guarantees the right to religious freedom actually drives faithful Christians out of the public sphere. “This iron curtain or whatever you want to call it between the church and people of faith and this separation of church and state is just false on its face,” he said.
He went on to insist that it is a Christian’s duty to “defend life” by electing women who want to restrict women’s health services. “Satan runs across the world with his doubt and with his untruths and what have you, and one of the untruths out there is driven, is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena,” he continued.
The Texas governor added that there’s “spiritual warfare” going on over “President Obama and his cronies in Washington” attempts to “remove any trace of religion from American life.” He did not specify how the president, a fellow Christian, was supposedly doing this. Perry also warned that it would be up to “Christian warriors, Christian soldiers” and Americans in general to “stand our ground and firmly send a message to Washington that our nation is about more than just some secular laws.”
Though Perry called for a “spiritual” war and not actual violence, suggesting that “warriors” and “soldiers” must “stand our ground” against the president is touchy rhetorical fodder, especially considering the wave of controversy that washed over the country following the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
Despite her national fan base and a massive war chest, Rep. Michele Bachmann may be in more danger than most suspect, with a new poll showing her lead diminished to just 2 points. Independent voters have swung against her by nearly 20 points in just two months, from a 4 percent advantage to a 15 point disadvantage. The internal poll, conducted by Democratic pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner at the behest of Democrat Jim Graves’ campaign and shared with Salon, shows that Bachmann’s favorability rating has tumbled since their last survey in mid-June, and finds Graves gaining ground with independents as his name recognition grows.
Overall, the poll shows Bachmann leading Graves 48-46 percent, within the margin of error. The race has moved significantly among independents, with a 20-point net shift toward Graves, from a 41-45 percent disadvantage in June to a 52-37 percent lead now. Among independents, Bachmann’s favorability rating has slipped 4 points while her unfavorability rating has jumped 7 points. Overall, she’s viewed mostly negatively. Among all voters, 40 percent give her a positive job rating, while a sizable 57 percent give her a negative one, with a plurality of 35 percent giving the most negative answer possible — “poor.”
An Iowa campaign aide for former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann sued the Minnesota congresswoman and her senior campaign aides on Monday, alleging an official stole a private email list and that she was blamed for its use.
The lawsuit filed by Barb Heki claims that Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, state Sen. Kent Sorenson, took the list from Heki’s private computer to promote Bachmann’s candidacy among Christian home-school advocates before the Iowa caucuses. Heki was hired to coordinate home-school supporters for Bachmann’s Iowa campaign.
ABC again invited CNN contributor and conservative pundit Dana Loesch to be part of its This Week roundtable, even though she has promoted a conspiracy theory that her CNN co-workers described as “McCarthy-like.”
On her radio show earlier this week, Loesch promoted the fringe idea that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin “is essentially a member of the female version of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Sisterhood.” The comment was the subject of a letter circulated by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacking Abedin.
Similarly, Loesch attacked a caller to her show this week who said she opposed Chick-Fil-A management’s stance against gay marriage, telling her that “I know you hate Christ.” Loesch claimed that as a supporter of marriage equality, the woman could not be a Christian. Polls over the last decades have shown declining opposition to same-sex marriage among evangelicals, and among Americans in general.
From the 07.29.2012 edition of ABC’s This Week:
But Loesch nevertheless repeated the claim on This Week, saying, “obviously the CEO is a Christian, people are shocked that he’s for traditional marriage? It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
A day after making the case for tolerance of gays and Muslims, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) defended his colleague Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) Islamophobic quest to root out supposed Muslim Brotherhood “deep penetration” of the U.S. government. Cantor lent credence to Bachmann’s claims by saying her accusations came from her “concern about the security of the country,” and then professed ignorance about her allegations.
CBS host Charlie Rose asked Cantor about his comments to BuzzFeed on Thursday that “It’s a bad thing to look at a Muslim and think bad things.”From the 07.26.2012 edition of CBS’s This Morning:
This isn’t Cantor’s first brush with Islamophobia — and, just like the last two days, he’s ended up on both sides of the story before. In 2011, Cantor endorsed fellow Virginia Republican David Ramadan, a practicing Muslim whose successful bid for a seat in the state House of Delegates was opposed by the Islamophobe Frank Gaffney, the progenitor of Bachmann’s charges. Earlier that year, though, Cantor co-hosted a Capitol Hill screening of a film by the Islamophobic Clarion Fund, where Gaffney sits on the board.
-Amanda Marcotte, Michele Bachmann Runs From Her Own Conspiracy Theories | The Raw Story
Still hoping that someone will suggest censure for Bachmann. Not holding my breath.