Walz responds to criticism from Jensen, says debates will happen

[anvplayer video=”5131445″ station=”998122″]

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz dismisses criticism from his Republican opponent, Dr. Scott Jensen, about the fact no new debates are yet scheduled.

“Let me just first of all, this again is the misinformation,” Walz told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in an interview at the Minnesota State Fair. “There are 50 governors in America. One has held a general election debate. That’s me. A 90-minute one.” Walz says that debate at Farmfest earlier this month will be followed by others in September and October once the Jensen campaign agrees to them.

“I’ve asked his team to work with us and schedule it,” Walz says. “I’m starting to maybe think they’re dragging their feet so they can say (we) don’t want to schedule it. We’re going to debate. I want to debate.”

The governor also directly joined the criticism of Jensen for comments he made in a speech four months ago comparing COVID policies in Minnesota to the loss of freedoms leading to Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s. “This is a dangerous analogy. Scott can have a difference with me on policies that we do and we can debate that. But the minimizing of the holocaust is incredibly dangerous.”

Walz also responded to Jensen’s criticism that raising issues about a four-month old video is part of a campaign of distraction by the governor and DFL Party to keep from talking about issues like crime and public safety. 

“The Holocaust is not a distraction,” Walz says. “It’s a historical event. This is about character and leadership. I’ve got a (public safety) proposal that’s been endorsed by all the police organizations and other community organizations and it’s Scott who says don’t pass it.” That’s a reference to Jensen urging Republican Senators not to pass a tax bill in May that also included new spending for public safety and other things.

Walz also responded to a report out this week that shows hundreds of Minnesota schools are falling behind and indicating student proficiency rates in reading and math have dropped to 50% or below.

“We always need to do better in education and it’s my life,” says the former school teacher. “It’s what I do. We’re seeing this across the country.”

He says criticism of his education COVID response must be weighed against how many unknowns there were in the early months of the pandemic. Walz offers his own criticism of people who question what he did, “Sitting on the sidelines complaining about COVID when we had 13,000 dead Minnesotans. These are things we weighed out. I think Minnesota teachers did a spectacular job. They’re ready to get back.”

You can see more of the interview with Governor Walz and our interview with Scott Jensen on “At Issue with Tom Hauser” Sunday morning at 10 a.m.