There's a long list of issues -- health reform and tax policy top the list -- on which we disagree with Second District Republican Rep. John Kline.
But that hasn't diminished our respect for Kline's deep knowledge of foreign affairs, the military and education issues. Or our sense that Kline, as he's become one of Minnesota's most powerful politicians, is above all committed to serving his country as dutifully as he did as a U.S. Marine.
Kline, 65, may come at things from the far right, but he also serves with a sense of stewardship. There's no doubt that he'll put the country's needs before ideology -- a quality in evidence when he cast a much-needed but unpopular vote to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 with the country within hours of default.
With the "fiscal cliff" of tax cut expirations and meat-axe spending cuts looming at the year's end, Congress will need experienced leadership. Kline, who has also led on veterans issues and on repealing the controversial No Child Left Behind educational plan, earns our endorsement for a sixth term.
The nation badly needs a thoughtful, long-term "grand bargain" -- like that outlined by the Simpson-Bowles plan -- to put its finances in order and reassure jittery investors and businesses. If reelected, Kline needs to wield his clout to get House GOP colleagues to end their symbolic votes against Obamacare and get to work forging a balanced debt-reduction plan that can pass both congressional chambers.
Kline's long record of collegiality will serve him well in doing this. So will his clear-eyed view of federal budget issues. Voters won't hear disingenuous pablum about eradicating waste and fraud. Kline plays it straight about the shared sacrifices that must be made.
Kline's opponent, Democrat Mike Obermueller, served up the shopworn "get rid of waste and fraud" when asked about a long-term debt deal. A former one-term state representative, Obermueller has much potential but needs more experience before serving on the national level.