Rep. Michele Bachmann's controversial remarks about the possible "anti-American" attitudes of Barack Obama and other Democrats continued to inflame debate in Minnesota U.S. House races on Monday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a day after denouncing Bachmann's statements as something that "dishonors" her office, arrived to campaign for DFLer Ashwin Madia in the Third District, and predicted victory for Democrats across the state.
Meanwhile, reports indicated that national Democrats will pour $1 million into the Sixth District race, and the state DFL pledged stepped-up efforts there as well.
"Even people who may be on the fence, even some folks who may be Republicans are offended by these comments," said DFL state chair Brian Melendez.
Bachmann's spokeswoman, Michelle Marston, did not respond Monday to requests for an interview with Bachmann. On KMSP-TV Monday, Bachmann repeated her assertion Sunday that her earlier comments to MSNBC's Chris Matthews were misunderstood.
"I did not suggest anti-American," she said. "Chris Matthews was suggesting the word anti-American and asking me to respond to it."
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington said Monday that Bachmann's comments have changed the political landscape in the Sixth District. David Wasserman, who analyzes U.S. House races for the report, said they were moving the district from "likely Republican" to "tossup."
Trailing Bachmann by $1 million in cash at the end of September, Elwyn Tinklenberg's campaign said Monday that it has raised more than $810,000 in contributions since Bachmann's remarks on Friday. Campaign spokesman John Wodele said the campaign has purchased more than $250,000 in TV and radio time through Election Day.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Monday announced that it would spend $1 million in the district and immediately begin running TV ads. The committee's website is using Bachmann's comments to solicit money.
Incumbency has given Bachmann formidable fundraising ability. Her campaign recently scheduled more than $300,000 in television ad time over the final few weeks of the campaign, and the National Republican Congressional Committee is putting substantial money into the race.
But Brendan Buck, NRCC spokesman, declined to say how much the GOP committee would spend to help Bachmann in response to the surge of contributions to Tinklenberg, saying it didn't want to divulge strategy.
Anti-Paulsen ads decried
Even as Bachmann's comments continue to heat up the political atmosphere, Pelosi's visit for Madia in the Third District race came amid a barrage of negative attack ads, largely funded by outside groups such as the DCCC. GOP candidate Erik Paulsen, who has not been able to count on the same financial support from the Republicans, has condemned Madia and the outside groups for what he has called a "smear campaign."
On Monday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Second District Rep. John Kline joined a group of veterans to decry as unfair a series of ads from Madia supporters suggesting that Paulsen voted against veterans as a member of the Minnesota House.
"It saddens me that we have allowed the political discourse to sink so low," Pawlenty said.
But Pawlenty, Kline and Paulsen all distanced themselves from Bachmann's remarks in response to reporters' questions.
Said Pawlenty: "I don't think it's fair or appropriate to suggest that Barack Obama is anti-American. If you do a lot of interviews, eventually you are going to say something that you wish you had said differently. It's just the nature of talking all day."