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Senate candidate McFadden visits Bemidji: Talks Obamacare and taxes but stays mum on social issues

Endorsed GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Mike McFadden talks with voters Saturday during a campaign stop at the .5K Kid’s Run taking place as part of the Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival. Zach Kayser | Bemidji PIoneer

BEMIDJI -- Mike McFadden, endorsed GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, stopped in Bemidji on Saturday during the .5K kids' run taking place as part of the Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival festivities.

In addition to Bemidji, the Fourth of July weekend leg of McFadden's statewide campaign tour included Walker and Bagley. McFadden said he also planned to stop in Warroad as part of a ceremony honoring local members of the U.S. Olympic hockey team later Saturday.

Before he mingled with voters, McFadden spoke briefly with a reporter about his stances on political issues.

McFadden promised he would not raise taxes on Minnesotans, but did not say directly whether he would sign a pledge created by conservative Grover Norquist to not raise taxes.

"I will not raise taxes on hardworking Minnesotans until we've weeded out all waste in government," he said. "I've made a point of not signing any pledges -- I don't sign pledges -- but I'll make a commitment to the Minnesotan people I will not raise taxes. That's a promise."

McFadden also said he is in favor of allowing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and criticized his opponent, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., on the issue.

"Al Franken consistently has voted against the Keystone Pipeline. He's voted against anything that relates to expanding our energy resources in this country," McFadden said. "With low-cost energy, I put more money into the pocket of Minnesotans because your energy costs go down, gasoline costs go down, and most importantly, we become a manufacturing superpower again."

McFadden has also leveled criticism against Franken in the past for Franken's involvement in supporting the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. McFadden wants to repeal and replace the law, but is also on record as saying he would keep two popular provisions: allowing young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26 and the measure prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. McFadden said Saturday he would pay for the government subsidy associated with the pre-existing condition provision with the "tremendous amount of money" the federal government would save by shifting health care back to state governments.

"With those cost savings, we could use some of that to help subsidize people with pre-existing conditions," he said.

When asked his position on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case earlier this week that allows certain companies to not provide health insurance coverage of birth control to their employees, McFadden did not answer, saying he was focused the economy, health care and education rather than "polarizing issues."

McFadden recently hired Carl Kuhl as his campaign manager. He did not say whether Kuhl's prior work with the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota would cause political fallout with conservative Republicans. "I think Carl's got a strong background in communications," he said simply. "He's a very, very good manager, and we're happy to have him on the team."

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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