Bachmann, Graves meet for final debateby Brett Neely, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and her DFL challenger, Jim Graves, met for their third and final debate Sunday on KSTP-TV.
Graves kicked things off, arguing that his experience in the private sector made him a good fit in the the most Republican congressional district in the state.
"I'm really a fiscal conservative to the bone," he said. "I've balanced budgets my whole life, I've created businesses my whole life."
Bachmann cast herself as a bipartisan problem solver who helped secure congressional approval for a new bridge over the St. Croix River this year.
"Well, what I've done is something absolutely remarkable this last term," she said. "I've brought Democrats and Republicans together and solved a problem."
Bachmann was actually on the GOP presidential campaign trail most of last year when the bridge bill was moving through Congress. But she has a big financial advantage over Graves.
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One sign of that edge: Her campaign aired at least three ads during the half-hour debate. Graves aired none.
The pair also sparred over federal spending, abortion and the 2010 health care law.
Moderator Tom Hauser asked Bachmann about accusations she made last summer that a senior member of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's staff had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Those accusations were widely denounced by Republicans and Democrats alike. But in the debate, Bachmann did not back down.
"Thank God we have members of Congress that are asking questions; that's all we did," she said.
Hauser replied: "But you went beyond asking questions -- you made an accusation about the Muslim Brotherhood."
"No, we did not make an accusation. We asked questions," Bachmann said.
Graves said Bachmann's allegations were no more than fear-mongering.
His campaign was set to get a boost later Sunday when former President Bill Clinton was due to lead a rally in St. Cloud.