GOP candidates for governor tangle over President Trump

Tim Pawlenty and Jeff Johnson held first debate Friday.

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 4:06 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidates Tim Pawlenty and Jeff Johnson spent their first public debate Friday arguing over Pawlenty's two previous terms as Minnesota governor and who insulted President Donald Trump worse in the run-up to the 2016 election.

The two candidates laid out few policy differences during a nearly hour-long debate hosted by Minnesota Public Radio News, differing largely on style rather than substance. Both vowed to eliminate the state's taxes on Social Security income — a popular topic among Minnesota Republicans — if elected, and voiced their support for Trump's moves to cut federal taxes and curtail illegal immigration.

But they clashed while rehashing the 2016 election and their support of the President. Pawlenty called Trump "unhinged and unfit for office" weeks ahead of Election Day, a remark that has loomed over Pawlenty's pursuit for his old job since before entering the race in early April.

Pawlenty countered that Johnson had once publicly referred to Trump as a "jackass," and that he still voted for Trump. Johnson said he regretted his word choice but still supported Trump over Clinton at the time.

"I supported him. You told people not to vote for him," Johnson said.

It underlines Trump's omnipresence in Republican politics as the midterm elections approach, even in traditionally Democratic states like Minnesota.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is leaving office after two terms, triggering a wide-open race to replace him. For Pawlenty, it's a shot at political revival after leaving the governor's office in early 2011 and quickly flaming out as a candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Johnson, a Hennepin county Commissioner and former lawmaker, is making his second try at the office after losing to Dayton in 2014.

The primary winner will take on one of three Democrats — state Rep. Erin Murphy, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz or Attorney General Lori Swanson. It gives Republicans another chance at their first statewide victory since Pawlenty's 2006 re-election.

Johnson critiqued Pawlenty's two terms as governor. He accused Pawlenty of "campaigning as a conservative but governing as a moderate," pointing to the growth of the regional planning agency Metropolitan Council's budget while Pawlenty was in office.

"Why didn't you author a bill to abolish it?" Pawlenty snapped back. "If you're going to say that you're a champion of these things, you have to do more than take up space and sit in a chair."

Johnson laid out several more specific proposals while Pawlenty continually referenced his tenure in office. Asked a question about new limits on abortion they would support, Pawlenty pointed to his signature on a 2003 bill requiring physicians to give women information about their pregnancy before getting an abortion.

Johnson said he'd try to ban taxpayer funded abortions through the state's public health care programs and would push to pass legislation banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

Pawlenty positioned himself as the only candidate who could beat Democrats in November and break the party's drought. But Johnson touted the endorsement he won from party activists at the statewide GOP convention in June, saying Pawlenty risked upsetting them in the months to come by not competing for it.

"If we think we can win in November by essentially just pushing aside the most active Republicans in the state, I think we're crazy," Johnson said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37210

Reported Deaths: 1495
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12048782
Ramsey4777222
Stearns231219
Dakota224890
Anoka2155107
Nobles16616
Olmsted107615
Washington104840
Mower9322
Rice8277
Scott6844
Clay58037
Kandiyohi5661
Wright4535
Blue Earth4422
Todd4002
Carver3611
Lyon3052
Sherburne3035
Freeborn2890
Steele2231
Watonwan2150
Benton2123
St. Louis17415
Martin1615
Nicollet15512
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1278
Winona12015
Crow Wing10412
Pine1030
Chisago971
Otter Tail921
Le Sueur911
McLeod850
Carlton830
Dodge830
Unassigned8237
Polk812
Chippewa761
Isanti650
Itasca6412
Waseca620
Douglas610
Meeker591
Morrison591
Becker550
Jackson550
Faribault540
Murray540
Sibley532
Pennington510
Mille Lacs342
Brown312
Pipestone311
Wabasha310
Beltrami290
Rock290
Yellow Medicine290
Renville282
Fillmore270
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood170
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Cass142
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Roseau100
Clearwater70
Mahnomen71
Lake60
Hubbard50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30173

Reported Deaths: 718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6275178
Woodbury320144
Black Hawk218058
Buena Vista170511
Linn123882
Johnson12318
Dallas122329
Marshall103519
Story7463
Pottawattamie71911
Scott70410
Wapello70230
Crawford6752
Muscatine62444
Dubuque60922
Sioux4610
Tama45829
Wright3771
Louisa36013
Jasper32117
Plymouth3134
Dickinson2592
Warren2581
Washington2349
Hamilton1871
Webster1702
Boone1421
Cerro Gordo1381
Clarke1272
Clay1270
Allamakee1264
Mahaska11517
Shelby1110
Clinton1041
Poweshiek1048
Pocahontas931
Carroll911
Bremer906
Des Moines862
Henry853
Franklin840
Cedar801
Taylor790
Emmet780
Cherokee751
Monona740
Floyd682
Marion680
Hardin650
Guthrie644
Sac630
Benton621
Jefferson580
Osceola580
Jones560
Harrison530
Humboldt531
Butler522
Buchanan511
Iowa510
Lee502
Monroe506
Hancock490
Calhoun482
Delaware481
Lyon400
Madison402
Clayton393
Davis391
Mills360
Palo Alto360
Winneshiek360
Grundy350
Fayette340
Mitchell340
Kossuth330
Lucas304
Greene280
Howard280
Chickasaw270
Jackson270
Union270
Winnebago270
Ida230
Cass210
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren190
Audubon161
Adair150
Ringgold150
Worth150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne90
Adams80
Fremont70
Unassigned70
Rochester
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Austin
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