By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — First Congressional District candidate Allen Quist is calling on Congressman Tim Walz to apologize for a statement during the Sept. 27 debate in Byron where Walz said Quist would cut veterans’ benefits.
Quist called a press conference in Mankato Tuesday to demand an apology and retraction, saying Walz passed on an opportunity to correct himself during the debate and while they both appeared on a political Twin Cities television show a few days later.
Specifically, Quist cites a videotape Walz said existed that showed Quist had said he would cut veterans benefits to balance the budget in six years. A transcript of Quist’s statement from that PBS “Almanac” video shows that Quist said out-of-control government spending is what threatens entitlement spending, including money promised to veterans.
Quist’s press conference highlighted this quote from the show:
“So I am saying we have to balance the budget, we have to do so in six years or less, and that is the only way to protect entitlements and to protect national defense spending.”
Quist said that quote shows his position is to protect entitlements, including veterans’ benefits.
“The accusation made by Tim Walz is shown to be without verification, and, therefore, without merit,” Quist’s news release said. “For that reason Allen Quist is now asking Tim Walz to issue a retraction and an apology for his false claims. Basic standards of integrity require that false accusations be avoided in public discourse.”
An apology won’t be coming, said Tony Ufkin, communications director for Tim Walz. Ufkin didn’t address Quist’s inaccuracy claim, but he did suggest the allegations were petty.
“Tim Walz will never apologize for fighting for veterans and their families,” Ufkin said. “This isn’t about Mr. Quist’s feelings. Tim Walz has a strong bipartisan record of standing up for the brave men and women who have fought for our freedom.”
When asked if there is any chance he has said anything during debates or during campaign speeches that wasn’t completely accurate, Quist said nothing is 100 percent, but he would never say anything that wasn’t consistent with his position on issues.
He also said he wouldn’t break a contract with veterans, or those receiving Social Security, because the budget can be balanced by cutting wasteful spending and “taking the shackles off free enterprise.”
During a July town hall meeting in Faribault, someone in the audience pressed Quist on whether all programs should face the possibility of cuts while the budget is balanced. Quist responded that “Everything has to be on the table.” Later in the meeting he also said the government has to honor its commitments to veterans’ benefits and Social Security, and that the debt is the “biggest threat” to those commitments.
“The reason I’m here is to have the record set straight,” Quist said. “I’m a stickler for accuracy.”