The congresswoman from Minnesota’s Sixth District who called for an investigation into “anti-American” attitudes in Congress has survived an unexpectedly strong challenge to win re-election.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, who was first elected to Congress in 2006, defeated challenger Elwyn Tinklenberg, who was Minnesota’s director of transportation under former Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Despite President-elect Barack Obama’s presence on the ballot, Bachmann won by 46.5 percent to 43.5 percent, about 12,000 votes.
Bachmann touched off a firestorm during an October appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews when she told the host, “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 love to see an expose like that.”
She also told Matthews she was “very concerned” that Sen. Barack Obama might harbor “anti-American views.”
At the time Bachman made those comments, polls showed her as much as 11-point ahead of Tinklenberg. Sensing an opportunity to unseat another GOP incumbent, Democrats pounced.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi charged Bachmann’s statements “dishonor the position she holds, and discredits her as a person.” The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which chipped in over $1 million for anti-Bachmann attack ads, charged Bachmann with fomenting a “new brand of McCarthyism.”
During the media furor, millions of dollars poured into the coffers of both candidates running to represent an area north of the Twin Cities that includes the city of St. Cloud.
“This is how they get conservatives to shut up — by making examples out of outspoken conservatives like me,” Bachmann said.
Bachmann later told Human Events that Matthews had “laid a trap” by repeatedly using the word anti-American during the interview until Bachmann began to use the term herself, adding, “and I walked into it.”
Bachmann is the first Republican woman elected to represent Minnesota in the House of Representatives. She ran on a conservative platform opposing abortion, higher taxes, and the massive Wall Street bailout bill.
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