Associated Press, Published October 31 2010
Bachmann, Clark skirmish over abortionST. PAUL – In the closing hours of an expensive brawl focused on jobs and the economy, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and Democratic rival Tarryl Clark veered into abortion politics in their final debate Sunday.
Clark is seeking to block Bachmann’s bid for a third term representing the socially conservative 6th District in the northern Twin Cities suburbs and St. Cloud area. Their campaign has been the nation’s costliest House race, with millions plowed into negative TV ads focused on issues from taxes to outsourcing and Social Security.
Until Sunday they avoided social issues, although Clark was endorsed early on by Emily’s List, a national fundraising network that helps elect Democratic women who support abortion rights. Bachmann has deep ties to the anti-abortion movement and the National Right to Life’s political action committee has independently spent $16,000 on radio ads and mail pieces supporting her.
In a live, televised debate on KSTP-TV, Bachmann accused Clark of supporting a late-term procedure that abortion opponents call partial-birth abortion after moderator Tom Hauser asked the candidates whether they would support further abortion restrictions.
Clark answered by talking about her background as a counselor to pregnant teens and teen parents and work on teen pregnancy programs. The two-term state senator said the rate of abortion could be cut by as much as 95 percent if such programs had more support, and she vowed to push for those changes if elected.
Bachmann’s response: “She is pro-abortion. She’s supported by Emily’s List and supports partial-birth abortion.”
“No, I don’t,” Clark said.
Clark added: “Here’s the thing, if a woman’s life is in danger, between her and her doctor they should be figuring that out at the end.”
“Supports partial-birth abortion,” Bachmann said, interrupting.
“It’s about making sure that we are actually doing something. I’m the only candidate in this race that’s done something to bring down abortion rates,” Clark said.
“That’s not true,” Bachmann said, mentioning that she had 23 foster children and has reached out to help unwed mothers.
Emily’s List spokeswoman Jess McIntosh said Bachmann is wrong to suggest that candidates endorsed by the Washington-based organization must support the late-term abortion procedure.
Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson described himself as an abortion opponent.
The skirmish came at the end of a debate that showed Bachmann and Clark’s sharp differences on issues ranging from the economic stimulus to health care and Social Security. Clark went after Bachmann for portraying Social Security as out of money, arguing that the system is funded through 2037. Bachmann accused Clark of falsely saying she would take Social Security away from seniors who get it now.
After the debate, Clark was headed to campaign stops in Buffalo, Elk River, Lino Lakes, Stillwater and Woodbury, while Bachmann was campaigning in Anoka, Woodbury and Stillwater.