Bachmann’s Foe Reports Fundraising Surge After Controversial Interview

Posted October 20, 2008 at 2:47pm

Democrats have turned Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) controversial comments Friday into a fundraising blitz.

The Republican Congresswoman’s opponent, former state transportation commissioner El Tinklenberg (D) announced Monday that he has raised more than $740,000 since Bachmann’s comments during a cable television interview on Friday. That number crushes any of Tinklenberg’s previous totals from this campaign cycle, including the $469,000 that he raised in the third-quarter fundraising period.

On the cable news show “Hardball,” Bachmann took heat for suggesting some of her Congressional colleagues could be “anti-America.” When host Chris Matthews, a former top aide to the late Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.), questioned Bachmann for calling Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) anti-American, the Minnesota Congresswoman suggested the media investigate her fellow Members.

“What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look,” Bachmann said during the interview. “I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would be — would love to see an expose like that.”

The brouhaha was further amplified by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who, after taping “Meet the Press” on Sunday, pointed to Bachmann’s comments as an example of Republicans’ poor campaign tone this election. Powell crossed party lines to endorse Obama on the Sunday talk show.

But Tinklenberg wasn’t the only Democrat who benefitted from Bachmann’s comments, which she later backed off on during a local news program by saying they were misunderstood. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee used footage of Bachmann’s appearance in a fundraising appeal by e-mail that brought in more than twice as much as last week’s e-mail appeal, according to the committee.

The race in the 6th district, which includes the suburbs and exurbs north of the Twin Cities, was not considered to be very competitive until recently. Tinklenberg’s fundraising was not on the same level as other competitive Democratic candidates in the country and public polls gave Bachmann the edge.

But just days before Bachmann’s comments, the DCCC elevated Tinklenberg to its “Red to Blue” list, a fundraising program used to highlight the party’s 63 best challengers and open-seat candidates in the country. Also, a DCCC poll from Oct. 16 put Tinklenberg within striking distance of Bachmann.