The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Election 2012

October 10, 2012

Walz-Quist debate had its humorous moments

MANKATO — The final results are in on Decision 2012: Rob Zombie-Marilyn Manson vs. Tim Walz-Allen Quist.

A crowd of 4,000 attended the Zombie-Manson "Twins of Evil" concert Tuesday night at the Mankato civic center compared to an estimated 450 at the 1st Congressional District debate between Democratic Rep. Walz and Republican challenger Quist at the Ostrander Auditorium.

While the metal concert was the more attractive option by a nearly 10-1 margin, it was the political debate that drew a standing-room-only crowd. About 100 people were packed along the outer aisles of Ostrander after every seat in the student union auditorium was filled.

The debate focused mostly on serious issues, but there were also attempts at humor that were left out of the story in Wednesday's Free Press.

Laugh lines

If laughs determined the winner, Walz would have prevailed Tuesday night.

Quist brought up the 9 percent approval rating of Congress in a survey earlier this year, the lowest in the history of the Gallup poll, as evidence of how poorly federal lawmakers have performed.

Walz, a three-term incumbent, didn't apologize on behalf of his fellow lawmakers.

"(When) I hear there's a 9 percent approval rating of Congress, I always wonder who those 9 are," said Walz, who blamed excessive partisanship and gridlock for the public's dissatisfaction. "... We couldn't agree it's Tuesday night."

Walz, of course, used that as a segue to talk about his bipartisan efforts to reduce public cynicism about their government -- including passage of his STOCK Act, which requires lawmakers to disclose their investments and prohibits use of inside information by members of Congress to make financial trades.

In defending the new farm bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee but blocked by conservative Republicans in the House, Walz said too many lawmakers are demanding perfect legislation rather than seeking the best possible compromise.

"Perfect is what you get in heaven," he said. "The U.S. House of Representatives is closer to hell."

Quist responded: "If the House is really closer to hell, I wonder why he wants to go back there."

 And Walz used one of his most reliable laugh lines in arguing for the importance of promoting home-grown renewable energy to replace oil imports from countries that regularly spew anti-American rhetoric.

"We export $1 billion a day to countries who hate us," Walz said. "They'll hate us for free.Ó"

 Quist joked about his incessant use of the phrase "lion of free enterprise," and he congratulated his opponent when Walz adopted the words in an answer about government energy policy promoting renewable energy (energy which Walz said would be produced by that roaring feline of capitalism.)

"I'm just delighted," Quist said. "... I'm glad you've swung over to the hard-right position of free enterprise."

Republicans, by the way, would likely argue that the laughs received by Walz actually exhibited bad manners by his supporters: Laughter -- along with cheers and jeers -- were prohibited under debate rules.

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Election 2012