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Incumbent 8th District Congressman Chip Cravaack talks a good game about supporting mining, but it's increasingly clear his focus is on Big Steel in Pittsburgh rather than the steelworkers on Minnesota's Iron Range.  A Wednesday night interview with Jason Lewis solidified this impression as Cravaack revealed just how clueless he still is about the 8th district in general and the Iron Range in particular.  Here's a sample of what Chip pulled out of his packsack for the national audience on Wednesday night:

In the 8th district of Minnesota, we are the steel base. 80% of our steel goes to the United States and makes our cars and makes everything.

We have school lands inside the Boundary Waters....they're supposed be creating revenue for the children in the 8th district of Minnesota.

Huh?

News flash Chip:

We don't mine steel.

We mine a low grade iron ore called taconite.

Raw taconite must be processed into pellets  

Refined taconite is shipped to blast furnaces and steel mills where it is turned into steel.

We don't have those facilities in northeastern Minnesota.

And school trust lands create revenue for all children in the state because the endowment is shared equally among all students  (Minneapolis received $1.2 million last year while Mt Iron-Buhl, where the ore is actually mined, received only $16,600). So the entire state benefits from mining in northeastern Minnesota, not just the 8th district - an important distinction given the current controversy over the land exchange.

Sure, Cravaack can explain these things properly when he's following a staffer's power point presentation or reading off carefully prepared notes. But when he's on his own or goes off script at a town meeting,  it becomes obvious Chip hasn't got a clue as to what he's saying - a dangerous thing to see in an elected official charged with leading a public debate on issues critical to his district.  How on earth are others supposed to understand our position on complicated issues like the school trust lands when our own representative doesn't understand them and worse, puts incorrect information out there that serves to fuel debate against us?

On the Iron Range, mining is who we are, it is what we do, it is the base of our economy. So how in the heck does an incumbent 8th district congressman not know the difference between raw iron ore and finished steel? Not know that the revenue generated from mining school trust lands benefits the entire state?

No wonder Chip Cravaack doesn't want to debate former Congressman Rick Nolan on the Mighty Mesabi Range. The Cuyuna Range native would most certainly clean this packsackers clock during a debate in the heart of Iron Country.

Cross posted from Iron Country Free Press

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