NRCC Disputes Reports on Bachmann Race

Posted October 23, 2008 at 1:48pm

Attempting to tamp down speculation that Republicans have abandoned Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a memo to reporters Thursday disputing the reports.

In the e-mail, NRCC Communications Director Karen Hanretty sought to clarify what she called “misreporting” on the committee pulling its ads in Bachmann’s re-election race. Hanretty maintained that the NRCC never ran ads in Bachmann’s district, and said the NRCC’s independent expenditure unit reserved time but chose not to use it.

“There are more paths to victory for Republican candidates than we have money to fund,” Hanretty wrote. “Some candidates, like Congresswoman Bachmann, are sitting on more than $1 million cash on hand in districts that President Bush won in 2004 by double digits.”

Bachmann made some inflammatory comments on a cable news show Friday in which she appeared to question the patriotism of some of her Congressional colleagues. Her opponent, former state Transportation Commissioner El Tinklenberg (D), has raised at least $1.3 million since Bachmann’s infamous appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” and the race has quickly gone from relatively safe for Bachmann to a tossup.

Hanretty also explained in the memo that under federal campaign finance law, neither the NRCC nor Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) can decide what races to fund. Instead, the IE unit is firewalled off from the committee, which is supposed to only learn about the IE activities from the public realm.

And history shows this won’t be the last time in the next 12 days that the IE unit will shift funding around, Hanretty said.

“Surely, the decisions being made by the IE are not easy,” she writes. “They have an estimated $22 million to spend nationwide on TV, radio and mail for Republican candidates this cycle, many of which are located in expensive media markets.”

On “Hardball” last Friday, Bachmann questioned whether Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and his wife held “anti-America” viewpoints and suggested a media inquiry into 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.”