Rove stumps for Bachmann, Kennedy

  • Article by: ERIC BLACK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 21, 2006 - 10:57 PM

The president's tactician was in town for twin fundraisers for candidates in high-profile races.

White House political maestro Karl Rove urged money and other forms of support for Republican congressional candidate Michele Bachmann at a Stillwater fundraiser Friday while protesters outside the event called for Bachmann to be defeated, Rove to be indicted and President Bush to be impeached.

Rove also appeared at a fundraiser for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kennedy on Friday evening.

That event was closed to the media.

At the Bachmann luncheon, Rove focused on the global war on terror, which he treated as interchangeable with the war in Iraq, and on the strength of the U.S. economy, which he attributed to Bush's tax cuts.

Rove, who is of Norwegian descent, also said of his Minnesota visit that it's "great to be in a place where Norwegians are not a minority."

The Bachmann fundraiser at the Water Street Inn in Stillwater attracted about 60 supporters, who paid $250 for lunch. Couples who contributed $1,000 to Bachmann could have their pictures taken with Rove. The Bachmann campaign did not immediately release the total amount raised.

Bachmann, a state senator from Stillwater, has recently benefitted from fundraising events featuring Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

Despite those events, Bachmann's DFL opponent, child welfare advocate Patty Wetterling, outraised her by roughly a 2-1 margin during the April-June quarter.

An Independence Party candidate, John Binkowski, is also in the race for the open seat from the north metro Sixth Congressional District.

During his public remarks, Rove took one shot at Wetterling, without mentioning her name, saying that Bachmann's opponent favors withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq by a fixed date.

Such a policy would damage U.S. credibility, Rove said, and would "prove in a conclusive way [to terrorists] that if they hit us hard enough, we will run away."

In a preemptive rebuttal to Rove, Wetterling pledged on Thursday to oppose any efforts to privatize Social Security.

A Wetterling news release said "politicians like Rove and Bachmann have failed to tell us how this approach of privatizing personal savings accounts helps the majority of families." Rove didn't mention Social Security in his remarks. Bachmann, who spoke briefly to introduce Rove, didn't talk about any issues.

Outside the inn, a few dozen protesters held up signs attacking Rove, Bush and Bachmann.

In a novel protest, long-time Bachmann critic Karl Bremer of Stillwater handed out fortune cookies containing some of Bachmann's controversial statements of past years, such as one saying that a minimum wage law is "superfluous," and one likening those who believe in the theory of evolution to a "cult."

John Atkins of Stillwater wandered outside the inn wearing a George Bush mask and holding up two signs, one of which said "I Should Be Impeached," and the other: "Rove Committed Treason." The second sign is a reference to Rove's role in divulging the CIA connection of Valerie Plame.

Atkins, 52, said it was his first-ever political protest.

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