Unfortunately, that sense is fueled by injured merit and a willingness to claim victimization when someone looks at him twice. So it was in today's remarkable debate with Congressman Walz, where Quist came out out the gate complaining about upcoming debate times and never quit.
He even threw in an old alcohol-related stop for good measure. That this incident has come up in each of the three earlier elections--though through surrogates, never the Republican candidates themselves--didn't stop Quist.
Of course, Quist introduced the point by saying he wouldn't bring it up, then brought it up. It's a signature part of the Norseland Republican's style.
Post Bulletin political writer Heather Carlson reports in Gloves come off in Walz-Quist debate:
The first one-on-one debate between DFLer Rep. Tim Walz and Republican Allen Quist quickly turned nasty on Thursday, with the two attacking each other while laying out their starkly different visions for the country.
Throughout the debate, Walz emphasized his willingness to work across the aisle to get things done. He repeatedly referred to Quist as an "extremist," citing his opposition to the proposed Farm Bill. Walz said that if voters want more gridlock in Washington, his Republican opponent deserves their vote.
"We have a group of extremists. Allen says he wants to join them," Walz said.
Quist responded by demanding an apology from Walz for calling him an extremist. Meanwhile, he labeled the DFL congressman a big spender who has done nothing during his six years in Congress to tackle the nation's soaring deficit. . . .
Lovely. Quist brought up the driving incident after Walz mentioned that that for 30 years, even Republicans have labelled Quist's positions as being from the fringe, and that Quist was in no position to play the victim, since the Norseland farmer had called Walz a "terrorist."
Quist tried to place the "terrorist" remark back thirty years ago, t's something he's said since he began running for Congress. In Quist: Defeating liberals a bigger battle than defeating terrorism, MnIndy's Andy Birkey reported in early January 2010:
Allen Quist, a Republican who is seeking to defeat Rep. Tim Walz in southern Minnesota’s First Congressional District, told attendees of the Wabasha County Republicans Christmas Party in mid-December that beating the “radical” liberals in Washington, D.C., is a bigger battle than beating terrorism.
“Our country is being destroyed. Every generation has had to fight the fight for freedom… Terrorism? Yes. That’s not the big battle,” he said. “The big battle is in D.C. with the radicals. They aren’t liberals. They are radicals. Obama, Pelosi, Walz: They’re not liberals, they’re radicals. They are destroying our country.”
Quist also railed against the health care reform bill. “This is the most insidious, evil piece of legislation I have ever seen in my life… Every one of us has to be totally committed to killing this travesty… I have to kill this bill.”
Walz may have a point: that wasn't 30 years ago, but less than three, but people have noticed Quist's tendency toward extremism for thirty years.
Update: KEYC-TV has posted the highlights of the bickering:
But Quist wasn't alone in biffing questions. Walz claimed that Quist had been silent about sparing veterans benefits from budget cutting; after the debate, he offered the TPT debate between Quist and Parry around the 50 min mark. It's not what Quist said, though he is exceedingly vague about how what he will cut.
The bitterness of the debate suggests more eyes will be on the next meeting, on October 9 at Minnesota State at Mankato. Bluestem will post the full video archives of the debate if it appears. In the past, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce has post video on its site, so it's possible.
Update: Mnnesota Public Radio reports on the debate in Walz and Quist meet for first debate.
Cartoon: Allen Quist by Ken Avidor.