By Gunnar Olson, Faribault.com - Jim Hagedorn, a Republican candidate running against Democratic Rep. Tim Walz in Minnesota’s First Congressional District, made a stop in Faribault Thursday morning to reiterate his campaign’s emphases on national security, the economy and the second amendment.
Alongside Hagedorn was FOX News contributor and author of the book, “In the Arena”, Pete Hegseth. Hegseth currently serves as CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. Formerly, he served as an infantry captain in the National Guard, serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.
The event, which took place at Perkins in Faribault, was the first stop of a day of campaigning around the district for Hegseth and Hagedorn, who are making a late push with the election just 53 days away.
Hagedorn and Hegseth spent much of the press conference criticizing Walz, who has served the First District since 2007.
Hagedorn challenged Walz in 2014 after defeating Aaron Miller in the primary only to fall short to the incumbent who earned 54 percent of the votes compared to Hagedorn’s 46 percent.
Earlier this year, however, Hagedorn breezed through his primary, defeating Steve Williams by more than 50 percent.
Despite his loss in 2014, Hagedorn appeared confident that votes will fall his way this year. He explained that his campaign spent no advertising dollars in 2014, which may have held them back, he said. He added that his primary fight against Miller kept the party from uniting in the district, which also put him at a disadvantage.
“Now, you see the county chairs from the neighboring counties,” he said of his supporters in the room. “These are the kingpins of the Republican Party, energized and unified.”
Hagedorn also explained that unseating an incumbent typically takes at least two election cycles in a district this large, but sees his campaign further along than others in the past.
When asked what the most important issue to his district was, Hagedorn explained that there are three main principals guiding his campaign.
The first, and the major talking point of the meeting, was national security.
“Whether it’s at the border or the refugee problem, they feel vulnerable and our government hasn’t done enough to protect them,” he said of his constituents’ concerns.
In his introduction, Hagedorn argued that his opponent has aligned with the foreign policies of President Barack Obama and that those decisions contributed to the security problems in Europe and the United States.
“Whether it’s border security or the migration of people in massive numbers to America from countries that hate America, or whether it’s the fact that 15 years after 9/11 we still don’t have a biometric system in the United States to track these people,” said Hagedorn. “Our congressman is on the wrong side of these issues.”
Furthermore, he explained his belief that American borders need securing and added that “we need to admit that America is at war with radical Islam.”
Hegseth applauded Hagedorn’s claims.
“We haven’t been effective in our policies on national security that has led to the success of radical Islam,” said Hegseth. “It’s motivating a whole new generation of people who aspire to that ideology.”
Hegseth also disputed claims of racism associated with both the refugee and national security conversations.
“The left will always point at you or me and say, ‘you’re racist’ and ‘you must hate people of different backgrounds.’ That has nothing to do with it,” said Hegseth. “We are welcoming people who love our state and our country; we just want everyone who’s coming here to love it, too. It’s not a nasty thing to say or a mean thing to say, that’s what America was based on.”
Hegseth went on to explain that refugees and immigrants need to adhere to a “social contract” and if that’s not the case, then “we need to take a pause on this.”
After national security, Hagedorn explained that the economy was another major issue for the district. He suggested that after years of economic stimulus there are 94 million people out of work and those who are working are not seeing regular wage increases.
To finish off, Hagedorn expressed his desire to “protect our God-given rights” which he said primarily meant the right to bear arms.
“The second amendment is on the ballot,” he explained. “If you vote for Hilary Clinton, you lose your second amendment rights and I will guarantee you that’s what will happen.”
Another key issue for Hagedorn is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Hagedorn praised presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stance on the VA, in which he hopes to “fire incompetent bureaucrats,” according to Hagedorn.
“Vets are experiencing massive delays and limited choices. It’s not working for them,” he said. “If they can get care at the VA, fantastic, but if they can’t, they should be able to get it locally.”
He went on to dispute the claims from Democrats accusing Republicans of trying to tear down the VA.
Hagedorn’s efforts will continue until Nov. 8, when he hopes to defeat the incumbent.