Flush with a flood of campaign contributions in the last turbulent week, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, her DFL opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, and his allies are running new rounds of TV ads touting their credentials and attacking each other in what has become one of the hottest races in the country.
Bachmann, a Republican, began airing an ad Friday that said, in part, "I may not always get my words right, but I know that my heart is right," an apparent reference to her remarks last week expressing concern that Barack Obama and members of Congress may hold anti-American views.
Tinklenberg recently began running a spot that plays a recording of Bachmann's comments as an announcer says she represents "the worst in Washington, even questioning the patriotism of others in Congress."
The stepped-up ad war comes as Minnesota Public Radio released a poll Friday showing that nearly four of 10 likely voters in the Sixth Congressional District said they are less likely to support Bachmann because of her televised comments on the MSNBC program "Hardball." In response to a question from host Chris Matthews, Bachmann said on the Oct. 17 show that she was "very concerned" that Obama "may have anti-American views" and that the news media should investigate the views of members of Congress.
Since then the Tinklenberg campaign has reported receiving more than $1.4 million in contributions. Bachmann's campaign says it has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from supporters since the comments.
Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee has canceled Twin Cities spots for Bachmann that were scheduled to air from Oct. 27 to Nov. 4. But her camp says it has plenty of money for the stretch run.
The Bachmann campaign also began running a commercial Friday that linked Tinklenberg to higher property taxes while he was mayor of Blaine. The ad also said he permitted unlawful consultant contracting practices while he was state commissioner of transportation under Gov. Jesse Ventura. "Officials called up their cronies and offered them contracts, unbid contracts," it says.
Tinklenberg spokesman John Wodele called that ad "character assassination."
Bachmann spokeswoman Michelle Marston said Friday that the ad referring to the controversy over Bachmann's "Hardball" comments had been considered for days and was not a response to the MPR poll.
The poll showed the Sixth District race to be a virtual dead heat, with voters favoring Tinklenberg over Bachmann 45 percent to 43 percent, and 5 percent backing Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
The results of the MPR survey are similar to those from a poll conducted by SurveyUSA, which showed Tinklenberg leading Bachmann 47-44 percent, also within the margin of error.
While reports had circulated earlier Friday that Bachmann was releasing an ad apologizing for her comments, the spot doesn't contain one. Aside from talking about not always getting her words right, Bachmann says the country is at a crossroads between embracing government and freedom. She is alone in the commercial.
" ... My heart is for you, for your children, and for the blessings of liberty to remain for our great country," she says at the end.
DFL Party spokesman John Stiles said Bachmann has passed up "numerous opportunities to apologize" in the past week for her comments.
The Tinklenberg ad quotes former Secretary of State Colin Powell calling Bachmann's comment about Congress "nonsense," and describes Tinklenberg as someone who will bridge the partisan divide.
It's the only ad released this week by his campaign.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running one that cites Bachmann's assertion at a debate that "hyper-regulation" caused the financial crisis and notes that her campaign received more than $100,000 from banks and Wall Street interests.
"Michele Bachmann may stand alone, but she doesn't stand for you," it ends.
Pat Doyle • 651-222-1210