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Published November 04 2012

Bachmann, Graves meet for final debate

ST. PAUL — Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann characterized herself as a bipartisan problem solver, while her Democratic challenger Jim Graves touted his private sector experience Sunday when the two candidates met for their third and final debate.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported that Graves got the debate started, arguing his experience makes him a good fit for the conservative 6th District.

“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 said she helped get Congress to approve a new bridge over the St. Croix River.

“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 campaigning for president most of last year when the bill was moving through Congress. But she has a financial advantage: Her campaign aired at least three ads during the half-hour debate at KSTP-TV while Graves aired none.

Moderator Tom Hauser asked Bachmann about her accusations that a member of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's staff had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Those accusations were denounced by both parties. The unsubstantiated allegations were initially drawn from a think tank study and Internet reports.

But Bachmann did not back down Sunday.

“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 amounted to fear-mongering.

The candidates also debated federal spending, abortion and health care.