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Bachmann-Graves race draws national attention

Rep. Michele Bachmann, the polarizing Minnesota Republican and Tea Party favorite, is often in more than her share of headlines. She is generating even more attention in the final sprint to Election Day – and so is her opponent, DFL businessman Jim Graves – as the national media shine a spotlight on Bachmann's tightest race yet.
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Rep. Michele Bachmann, the polarizing Minnesota Republican and Tea Party favorite, is often in more than her share of headlines. She is generating even more media attention in the final sprint to Election Day – and so is her opponent, DFL challenger Jim Graves.

It's typically tough to oust a U.S. House incumbent. And Bachmann – a one-time presidential candidate who often draws media attention for controversial statements – enjoys widespread name recognition in and out of her district. She's among the very top fundraisers in the House.

But Graves, a wealthy hotelier, is still introducing himself to voters, MPR reports Thursday. This is Graves' first race, and he is trying to run as a centrist. He often says he is running for the 6th District, not against Michele Bachmann, MPR says.

Bachmann has been at the center of lengthy profiles this week. Polls show her with a solid lead (a recent Star Tribune poll showed her leading 51 to 46 percent.) Few expect an upset, but the national media seem to like the narrative that she's in a closer race this year than in past elections. The Wall Street Journal says she is "battling to hang on to her House seat," as Graves paint her as a fringe player.

Donors have responded to Bachmann's pleas to them that Democrats "have a plan to defeat me," the Wall Street Journal notes. She raised a staggering $4.6 million in the third quarter.

If America has reached a new level of polarization, few congressional races represent the chasm more than the Bachmann-Graves race, CNN reports in one of the longest profiles of the race this year (the story has generated more than 2,300 comments).

Bachmann is unapologetic after she drew widespread criticism this summer when she suggested the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the Obama administration's federal government, CNN notes.

"I've been proven right in the tragic events of this last month. The Muslim Brotherhood is not the Lutheran Brotherhood," she told Minnesota Public Radio.

She continually paints Graves, who has never held office, as a big spender, CNN reports. Her campaign launched the BigSpendingJim website. In response, Graves tells CNN, "In deference to her, she doesn't understand business. She doesn't understand budgeting, but then again: Why should she?"

Graves and Bachmann have three debates scheduled in the final week before the election: Oct. 30 at the St. Cloud Convention Center, an MPR debate on "The Daily Circuit" show Nov.1, and a KSTP-TV debate on Nov. 4.

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The first debate between Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and DFL challenger Jim Graves featured sharp exchanges on a variety of topics: the St. Croix Crossing bridge project near Stillwater, Obamacare, and Bachmann's celebrity.

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An internal poll taken by the Democratic challenger shows U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's lead over Jim Graves has shrunk to two percentage points, which is within the poll's margin of error. The Bachmann campaign says the poll lacks credibility. The Graves camp says it shows fallout from Bachmann's claims about the Muslim Brotherhood and its influence in Washington.

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