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Graves, Bachmann Meet in First Debate [AUDIO]

St. Cloud Chamber President Theresa Bohnen, Democrat Jim Graves, Republican Michele Bachmann

ST. CLOUD – Sixth District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Democratic challenger Jim Graves met in their first debate this (Tuesday) afternoon.

The debate was a spirited contest with Graves especially critical of Bachmann.

The first question was about St. Cloud’s greatest challenge, however almost all of the discussion was about the new bridge to be built in Stillwater.  Graves says the $626 million bridge is too costly.

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Congress passed the bill, and it was signed by President Obama, earlier this year.  Bachmann says she’s proud of her bi-partisan effort on the bill.

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Construction on the new bridge across the St. Croix river is expected to start in 2014. The St. Croix Crossing bridge project near Stillwater,  is in an area that now belongs to the 4th District.

The Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – was also a hot topic of discussion. Graves says there are parts of the bill that he supports, but that it still needs some work.

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Of course Bachmann voted against the bill, and she has been one of the most outspoken opponents of it since it passed.  While she was running for President Bachmann said her top priority would be to repeal Obamacare.

The two also differed greatly on the issue of social security. Graves says he’d strengthen it by lifting the $110,000 cap on contributions.  However, Bachmann says that would result in a large tax increase, and would be a big job killer. That’s an answer Graves wasn’t happy with.

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They both say they’ve been misrepresented during the campaign.  Bachmann says it’s not true that she’s not spending time in the district.

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Meanwhile, Graves says he’s not a big spender.

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Bachmann and Graves will debate two more times — Friday and Sunday — before next Tuesday’s election.

Bachmann is completing her third term in Congress.  She previously served in the State Senate, and is the first Republican woman to represent the state in Congress.  Earlier this year she made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for President.

Graves is a St. Cloud native.  He’s the owner of the Le St. Germain Hotel in St. Cloud.  He founded the AmericInn hotel chain in 1979, and co-founded the Graves Hospitality Corporation with his son in 1993.

AM 1240 WJON, and WJON.com aired the debate live.  An immediate snapshot from the WJON Facebook audience seemed to be split on the debate.  Comments ranged from “Graves was rude and snide”, to “Graves did a wonderful job.”.  Others say “Bachmann did a wonderful job”.

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