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Rep. Ellison: Questions About Past Are a 'Smear Campaign'

(MSNBC)

By    |   Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016 01:05 PM

Minnesota Sen. Keith Ellison, a candidate for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said that reports about his past are "bad reporting" and a "smear campaign" that have nothing to do with current issues.

The Minnesota Democrat was asked Wednesday pn MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to comment on reports regarding statements he made in the past, such as saying that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was a role model for black youth.

Ellison defended his experience in Congress.

"I think that it is bad reporting because I have a 10-year record in Congress. I have a four-year record in the Minnesota statehouse. I've practiced law for 16 years."

"It's just that kind of reporting that, you know, just that sort of is not quality and doesn't help people understand the real issues," Ellison said.

Ellison said Farrakhan had nothing to do with current events.

"What does he have to do with anything going on in this race or this country at this time? Absolutely nothing," Ellison said.

The congressman said he made the comments in 1995 around the time of the Million Man March, an African-American activist campaign, but it, too, had no bearing on current events.

"The march was a very good thing. I was very proud to be part of it, but here I am having to answer questions about this and I'm not talking about what our country needs to look like and what the Democratic Party can do because this smear campaign from almost 21 years ago or something like that is — this is about distracting and taking people away from the issues that really are at hand in this case."

"I think it serves somebody's political purpose to push this stuff. But it doesn't serve the public interest to serve it," Ellison said.

He added that in 2006, he disavowed statements that he had made.

"Back in 2006 and before I disavowed them. That's the ridiculous thing about this, that we keep on having to answer this kind of stuff. But let me tell you, it's not that people are — I don't think people who are pushing it are genuinely curious. They don't want to talk about what the Democratic Party needs to look like to be an effective vehicle for the hopes and dreams of average Americans. So they bring up this kind of stuff and get you to make me answer this kind of stuff."

CNN reported Dec. 1 that Ellison released a statement saying, "My record proves my deep and long-lasting support for Israel, and I have always fought anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and homophobia."

Ellison also discussed the Democrats' loss during the election, commenting that Hillary Clinton's loss was due to poor voter turnout.

"We lost by about 76,000 votes in three states and I think the real answer is voter turnout. How do we turn out the vote in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, places like Pennsylvania?"

Democrats did well in Minnesota, on the other hand, because of turnout, he said.

"In Minnesota, which is right in that belt of those in the industrial Midwest, we survived that way because we prioritized voter turnout. And in my district in the fifth district of Minnesota when I first got to Congress, we had the lowest congressional turnout in my state."

He said that Minnesota survived a wave of Republican wins in the election, and that will help him ensure wins for Democrats as chairman of the party.

"There will be waves. Every party is going to have its own ebb and flow. How do we survive it? We prioritize turnout and in my state of Minnesota . . . I have the highest turnout and we have four constitutional officers who are all Democrats because we prioritize voter turnout, two senators who are Democrats, because we prioritize turnout. That's what I'm good at and I think I can bring it to the national stage."

"We're talking to folks every day, talking about the future of the Democratic Party, where we want to go; grassroots party, a party really connected to the base and the rank and file, prioritizing voter turnout in every election up and down the ballot," he said about his plans for the Democrats. "That's what we're working on."

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Minnesota Sen. Keith Ellison, a candidate for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said that reports about his past are "bad reporting" and a "smear campaign" that have nothing to do with current issues.
keith ellison, democrats, democratic national committee, louis farrakhan
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2016-05-14
Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016 01:05 PM
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