Fine calls Ellison ‘Unfit for Congress’

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The victorious Keith Ellison, who trounced two fellow DFLers Tuesday in what appeared to be an uphill primary battle, is now facing a much deeper pinch into his record, primarily by Alan Fine, the Republican party’s candidate.

In an Almanac debate that also included Tammy Lee and Jay Pond, the Independent Party and the Green Party candidates, respectively, Fine characterized Ellison as an “unfit for Congress,”

“Ellison is part of a hate group,” he said.

Visibly irritated Ellison interjected. “This is a complete distortion of facts. The Republican party doesn’t want to talk about important issues facing people of the Fifth District,”

Less than a day after Ellison’s hard-fought victory, Fine leveled a sharp criticism against Ellison, accusing him of, among other things, racism.

Gaunt and soft-spoken, Fine is a college professor who has never held a political office- a fact that might be reflective of the Republican Party’s attitude toward one of the nation’s most liberal districts that sent DFL representatives to Washington for 44 consecutive years.

Fine, nevertheless, seems to believe that extreme negative attacks might yield favorable outcome to an opponent who could be the nation’s first Muslim congressman. But on Friday’s heated and often interjected debate, he offered a bit of disclaimer.

“I’d like to make it clear that [my criticism to Ellison] has nothing to do with a race or faith,”

When all candidates were asked one thing they would do first in Washington if elected, Fine wanted tax cuts for veterans. Ellison talked Medicare for seniors.

But Fine was evasive when asked about the Bush administration’s intelligence blunder that led to the current war in Iraq. Unlike Ellison, who calls for the immediate withdrawal of Iraq, Fine said everyone should be held accountable of what they did wrong without delving into details. His tactics are popular among some Republican candidates who distanced themselves from the Bush administration, whose approval ratings are shrinking.

Tammy Lee and Jay Pond have mostly taken the high moral ground and avoided to engage in a “nasty personal attacks,” as Lee put it.

All four candidates are expected to debate several more occasions before the November elections.

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