The three Governor candidates were asked how they stand on the social issue of abortion, and surprisingly Representative Tom Emmer goes to great lengths to not answer and eventually turned it into a “jobs issue”.
Debate moderator Cathy Wurzer pressed him three times and reminds Emmer he sponsored five antiabortion bills last session. “I’m sure it’s important to many people”, said Emmer. “This election is about the economy and jobs,”
All the reporters talked about this non-answer afterwords. The Star Tribune’s Rachel Stassen-Berger and TPT’s Mary Lahammer were in another studio with an audience and said the listeners lit up. Many people tweeted about Emmer’s non answer. Pro life supporters were disappointed how he shirked the answer, Pro Choice supporters felt he’d hidden his feelings. Wurzer reminded him that he’d supported five anti-abortion bills last session.
Meanwhile Mark Dayton and Tom Horner gave measured answers supporting a woman’s right to choose, with Horner highlighting education as a way to reduce abortions.
After the debate, Horner said he didn’t understand why Emmer wouldn’t talk about what he’d do on abortion if elected Governor. He said Emmer was showing a lack of leadership on the abortion issue by not focusing on reducing the need for abortion with better sex education and health care for women.
This isn’t the first time Emmer has not directly answered questions about social issues. Earlier this month, he was asked several of the same questions by University of Minnesota students and deflected or avoided answering the questions.
All three candidates discuss the abortion question. Two of them answer it. Captioned video of Tom Emmer and Cathy Wurzer on abortion:
From TPT/Star Tribune Gobernatorial Debate, Oct. 29, 2010
Speakers: GOP Candidate Tom Emmer, Almanac Host Cathy Wurzer
Cathy Wurzer: Representative Emmer, do you expect to introduce any abortion-related bills during your tenure if you were elected Governor?
Tom Emmer: You know what Cathy, we had this conversation when I was here back in August. I have a very clear position on these issues
Cathy Wurzer: You were endorsed by the MCCL.
Tom Emmer: Sure, but my campaign is all about getting government back in proper –
Cathy Wurzer: I understand,
Tom Emmer: – in –
Cathy Wurzer: but there are people who vote on abortion issues.
Tom Emmer: Well, that’s great,
Cathy Wurzer: They, they go and they are supportive, they want to know who they’re voting for.
Tom Emmer: That’s great, and like I said, I’ve got a history, I’ve got a record on those issues, it’s clear. But this campaign is about the economy and jobs. That’s what we have to do for the state of Minnesota going forward. And I’m gonna stick to it.
Cathy Wurzer: So are you saying this is not an important issue then?
Tom Emmer: I’m sure it’s important, to many people.
Cathy Wurzer: Because you co-sponsored five anti-abortion related bills last session.
Tom Emmer: It’s it’s very –
Cathy Wurzer: So it must be important to you.
Tom Emmer: It’s important to many people, but again this is about the economy and jobs.
Cathy Wurzer: I understand that –
Tom Emmer: We gotta get people working again in the state of Minnesota.
Cathy Wurzer: – and in 28 other debates we talked about the economy and jobs. We’re asking about social issues.
Tom Emmer: Right.
Cathy Wurzer: So the last, I’m going to ask you this one more time. Do you expect to introduce any (at :55 Emmer says something unclear) abortion-related bills during your tenure?
Tom Emmer: Cathy, here’s the thing. Let’s stick to the issues that unify us, this
Cathy Wurzer: I,
Tom Emmer: is an issue that divides us.
Cathy Wurzer: – you know, I understand that.
Tom Emmer: I think it’s time that we be unified, and the one thing that’s gonna unify us is getting our economy moving again, getting Minnesota, Minnesotans good quality jobs, and getting ‘em workin again.
Cathy Wurzer: Okay.
Tom Emmer: Yeah. Let’s stick with that.
Cathy Wurzer: So you’re not gonna go answer the question.