Clinton cheerleads for Tarryl Clark

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 25, 2010 - 6:24 AM

Former President Bill Clinton sought to galvanize support for DFLer Tarryl Clark in her race against Michele Bachmann.


Former U.S. president Bill Clinton joined fellow supporters of 6th District congressional candidate Tarryl Clark, right, at a Vikings-Packers party in Blaine. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken also spoke at the rally.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Locked in a tough race to unseat a leader of the Tea Party movement, DFL congressional candidate Tarryl Clark brought former president Bill Clinton to Blaine on Sunday to galvanize local Democrats ahead of the Nov. 2 election.

Clark, a state senator, is waging a hard-fought campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a two-term Republican lawmaker in one of Minnesota’s most conservative districts. Clinton’s speech to several hundred Clark supporters at a Teamsters Hall in Blaine capped off an evening watch party of the Vikings and Packers battle on television.

Clinton largely focused the Democrats’ record in Congress and argued the party is making progress fixing the economy but needs more time. “I’d like to see [Republicans] get behind a locomotive going 200 miles an hour straight downhill and stop it in 10 seconds. You can’t do that.”

He took few shots directly at Bachmann, except to note she belongs to a Republican Party that has drifted too far right.

ldquo;If we could bring back all the great Republicans from the past, every Republican leader from Theodore Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower would be voting for [Clark] in this election,” Clinton said. “Her opponent, this crowd in Washington, they make Richard Nixon look like a member of the Students for a Democratic Society.”

He accused Republicans of running a “bait and switch” in the midterm elections by publicly defending the taxpayer but actually catering to special interest groups.

Clark touted her upbringing in a Republican family and accused Bachmann of supporting outsourcing, a frequent target of her television ads.

 “We’re fed up with a congresswoman who at best has been absentee,” Clark told the crowd.

Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar rallied the crowd at halftime.

“It would really be nice to have a member of the House in the Sixth District who is thinking every day about the people of the Sixth District,” Franken said to applause from the room. 

The campaign asked for a suggested donation of $35 from attendees, some of whom were still lined up outside during the game. 

The location of Sunday’s event was likely no accident, given that Clark’s campaign is aggressively pursuing independent voters in Blaine and other population centers in Anoka County. The campaign says Clark is likely to need the county to win the election; she has trailed Bachmann by nine points in two polls of the race.

The former president also lent his name to a Clark fundraiser in September while in town for gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton. At the time, he remarked that Bachmann puts “ideology over evidence” and called her comments “pretty stupid.”

 “It’s not surprising that liberals from across America are here in Minnesota supporting Tarryl Clark,” Bachmann spokesman Sergio Gor said Sunday. “Her tax-and-spend record naturally allies her with friends like President Obama, Clinton and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, who all visited Minnesota this weekend.”

Though it is not the most competitive race in the country, the Sixth District is by far the most expensive. Clark and Bachmann have raised a combined $15 million, yards ahead of any other House race and on par with many Senate races. Much of it has come from outside Minnesota.

Bachmann’s $11 million haul surpasses any House candidate in history. Clark has raised slightly more than $4 million.

News from other districts

DFL U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar lost the endorsement of his district's largest newspaper, the Duluth News Tribune, for the first time in his 30-year career on Sunday. The paper gave their nod to Republican Chip Cravaack, who is waging an aggressive campaign to topple the 18-term chairman of the House Transportation Committee. In their endorsement, the paper praised Oberstar's work for the district, but faulted him for not showing "financial restraint" in Congress.

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