Bachmann, Graves clash in first debate

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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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.

Graves said the $626 million bridge, which has been under discussion for years, was too costly and that a less expensive design should have been selected, WJON reports.

The station, which has audio clip highlights, says both candidates agreed on one thing: they have been misrepresented by the other. Graves said he was not a "big spender" as Bachmann has alleged; and Bachmann said she has been devoted to her district, not focused on her own political advancement, as Graves has said.

About 500 attended the debate in St. Cloud. Pro-Graves activists in the crowd were vocal, notably at one moment when Bachmann said she was not just speaking from talking points, the Star Tribune reports.

Two more debates are scheduled, for MPR on “The Daily Circuit” show on Thursday, and a KSTP-TV event on Sunday.

Bachmann has held her lead in the polls, but the race with Graves is her closest yet. It's a "surprisingly tough" contest for the incumbent, The Hill, a Washington-based newspaper, reports.

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