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In Mankato, where Hatch spoke Thursday morning, College Republicans stood outside holding ears of corn and a sign that read: "Trick question: What's E85?"
Outside Hatch campaign headquarters in St. Paul, a dozen Minnesota College Republicans mounted a lighthearted protest of Dutcher's comments, raising chants of "Ethanol! Ethanol! Ethanol!" and "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Judi Dutcher's got to go!" Costumed as an ear of corn, the group's treasurer, University of St. Thomas senior Tom Kalil, announced: "I am E85. Every Minnesotan should know about me!"
Link to Swift Boat attacks
Hatch, meanwhile, issued a counterattack on another front, claiming Thursday that A Stronger America-Minnesota is linked to an adviser for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.
A Stronger America-Minnesota registered in Minnesota a month ago, under an address in Alexandria, Va. Hatch said in a written statement he discovered that an insurance-industry backed group, Americans for Job Security, share the same address.
The attorney for Americans for Job Security is Benjamin Ginsberg, who was the attorney for the 2004 Bush campaign and for the Swift Boat Veterans. Ginsberg resigned from the Bush campaign when the media disclosed he was simultaneously working for both.
The spokesman for A Stronger-America-Minnesota, Joe Weber, didn't dispute the assertions Hatch made about Ginsburg, but said they were irrelevant.
The group has hired a local attorney, Doug Kelley, and is funded by Minnesota contributors, Weber said.
Staff writer Conrad deFiebre contributed to this report.