U.S. Rep. John Dingell denies he called his Republican opponent Cynthia Kallgren ignorant
U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, was taken to task by his Republican opponent on Wednesday for remarks he made in an interview earlier this year.
"I never thought ignorance or inexperience was a qualification for running for office," Dingell was quoted as saying in a Dearborn Patch article on July 3.
The article noted that Dingell was speaking generally about candidates who tout their lack of political backgrounds as an asset when running for office.
Cynthia Kallgren let the 29-term congressman know she hasn't forgotten those remarks and she takes them personally.
"My opponent for the 12th Congressional District has called me ignorant, inexperienced and unfit," she said in her opening remarks at a candidate forum in Ann Arbor. "If ignorant describes my lack of bureaucratic buy-in to crooked and crony Washington ways, I prefer to be ignorant."
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
At the time the story ran in July, Dingell was competing in the Democratic primary against 25-year-old University of Michigan student Daniel Marcin.
Following the August primary, Kallgren, a Republican from Trenton, emerged as Dingell's opponent for the Nov. 6 general election.
Dingell denied he was referring to Kallgren or any specific opponent of his when he gave the quote about ignorance and inexperience to the Dearborn Patch.
"My opponent is entitled to her own opinion, but she's not entitled to her own facts," he said. "I never said that she was ignorant, unqualified or incapable of serving. I don't comment on my opponents."
Kallgren responded to that.
"If you read the article in which you are quoted in the Dearborn Patch —," she said before being cut off by Dingell, who interjected: "I was not quoted that way."
"Go back to the article and read it," Kallgren fired back.
"I will be glad to do it, and I will be glad to have you read it," Dingell answered.
Dingell and Kallgren continued to disagree on issues ranging from health care to the federal budget deficit and the national debt. They shared the stage with several other candidates for local office.
"You need to know it is time for you to retire and make room for a return to Michigan prosperity under new management, under new ideas," Kallgren told Dingell. "It's time for Michigan to hear a congresswoman's voice who has created jobs while I built my own business."
Kallgren repeatedly touted her experience as a small business owner. Asked to clarify which business she owns, she said she was a home-based consultant for a company called Creative Memories.
"It is helping people tell their life story with scrapbooks, digital photo albums to organize their photos," she said. "I was nationally recognized for sales, as well as recruiting."
Dingell, who has been in office since 1955, touted his experience in Congress. He said his primary interests remain growing jobs and the economy.
"I was one of the leaders in saving the auto industry," Dingell said. "It has been one of my major functions inside the Congress to move to see to it that jobs in Michigan are protected."
He also said he fought for the passage of the 2009 federal stimulus package, which pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy. The $18 billion that went to Michigan, he said, was crucial in helping maintain basic services like police and fire during the recession.
"I am particularly pleased in my efforts to preserve our natural resources," he added. "I have seen to it that we've begun the cleanup of the Rouge, the Huron and the other rivers that flow in our area."
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Kallgren isn't as keen on the law. She called it "the Obamacare tax."
"I would not want the government to take over our insurance companies, because I feel we would sacrifice the quality of care," she said. "If you get the government involved, you will not be able to care for your parents, your spouse, your children in the way that you want."
Dingell argued the law does more to help insurance companies and help people access health care than it does to interfere.
"This is an excellent program," he said. "It provides a mechanism to avoid the collapse of our insurance and our health care system, because the costs are going up at twice the rate of any other country in the world and it is impossible now for most small businesses to afford it."
Many of the major provisions of the law take effect in 2014. Dingell said it will set up exchanges under which insurance companies will offer a wide selection of health insurance products.
"We're not taking over the insurance industry," he said. "We're providing them with 47 million more people who will be buying insurance and this is the reason they're supporting it. You're going to find that small business is going to receive significant subsidy."
Everyday citizens will benefit greatly, too, Dingell said.
"Every American will, for the first time, have an opportunity for health care," he said. "No longer will you be denied health care because you have a pre-existing condition, and no longer can you be kicked off an insurance policy because you got sick. These are major changes."
Since she believes Obamacare is not the answer, Kallgren was asked to say how she would address the nation's health care crisis.
"I believe that if we allow insurance companies to be bought across state lines, if we create competition in insurance companies, we will lower the cost of health care," she said.
Kallgren said her platform is short and simple.
"I am pro-business and pro-life," she said. "Everyone wants more jobs. And of course, if elected, all politicians promise more jobs, but government does not create jobs. Business creates jobs. My platform promotes new businesses and expansion of business."
Criticizing "excessive regulations," "excessive taxes" and "massive debt to every American," Kallgren concluded that "government needs to get out of the way of business."
Asked to explain how they plan to address the federal deficit, Dingell said he has no hopes of solving the problem overnight, but he'll continue to work on creating jobs and opportunities for people to grow the income of the nation, while also looking at targeted spending cuts.
"We're going to have to address the problem of expenditures and that means there will be some savage cuts made," he said. "And that will include everything, including defense."
Dingell said it's important to keep making investments so the United States can "out-educate" and "out-innovate" the rest of the world.
Kallgren pointed out the national debt is now about $16 trillion. The federal budget deficit is closer to $1 trillion. She criticized Dingell for not doing enough to tackle the problem.
"After 57 years, this is not a priority to him," she said. "But as a mother of four children, I can tell you it's a priority to me."
Kallgren said it's immoral to pass a large debt on to future generations. She said Dingell will be gone by the time "the blank hits the fan," but her kids will be stuck living in a nation in debt.
Kallgren didn't say exactly where she would make cuts to balance the federal budget, except that she'd get the job done.
Dingell argued the nation's debt grew significantly under Republican presidents while Bill Clinton, a Democrat, left the nation with a $2 trillion surplus when he was in office.
"When Jimmy Carter was president, he left with a $750 billion national debt," Dingell said. "When his successor, Ronald Reagan, left, he left with a national debt of about $2 trillion.
"If you look at what Mr. George W. Bush left us, he left this nation with two wars fought on the credit card and a national debt which amount to about $11 or $12 trillion," he said. "The result is that we have to now get these messes in hand, and they cannot be done overnight."
Dingell said he doesn't like it when Republicans blame the Democrats for the nation's financial problems because the Republicans have contributed to the problems significantly. He said President Barack Obama is working to reduce the federal deficit but the GOP has been hostile.
"The president has got a proposal and a program to move these things forward, but the interesting thing is the Republicans around the Congress this time have only passed 60 bills through the House of Representatives, not a single one of which related to appropriations or budget," he said. "They would rather sit in the dark and curse the darkness than to light one small candle."
Dingell and Kallgren are running in the new 12th Congressional District, which stretches from Wayne County into Washtenaw, covering Downriver, Dearborn, Belleville, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.
Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 11:09 a.m.
Cynthia is a reputable person deserving of a chance to straighten out this mess our country has become.With career politicians like dingelberry spending us into socialism, its no wonder this once great nation is coming apart at the seams.Vote Kallgren ! I approve this message
Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.
Congressman Dingell was correct about one thing both R & D contributed to debt problem. However he has not offered any reductions in spending. Most of the debt problem is caused by "Baseline Budgeting" that was implemented as part of the "Congressional Budget Act of 1974. " This allows for automatic increases in spending based on increases in inflation & population. If revenues fall, does not matter spending goes up. It means politicians call cuts in the rate of growth "spending cuts". This is the main reason we now have a $16 trillion deficite with $1 trillion deficites in the 10 year spending plan for the next 10 years. Is it not reasonable to ask Congressman Dingell what he will do to at least slow down the increases to the budget deficite? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseline_(Budgeting)
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.
Congressman Dingell has been a great asset to our community and our State. There is no question that Ms. Kallgren is misrepresenting his comments that clearly were not directed at her personally; she wasn't even running at the time that he made those remarks. We wonder, however, whether her comments about corruption and cronyism were directed at Congressman Dingell. We have to wonder about those who talk about "discarding" something because it is old. They were made better in the "olden" days. Keep up the good work, Congressman Dingell and best of luckon your re-election.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.
Sounds like she's used to being called ignorant to fly off the handle over something like that. Besides the shoe seems to fit. If you got nothing to offer, just attack your opponent with lies, just like Mitt. Now we finally know "small business" she owns. Go home and scrapbook.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.
Dingell is so smug! I don't think the founders of this country intended for members of Congress to make a lifetime career out of their jobs. Dingell has fed off the public trough for more than half a century. One mistake: helping draft and ram the unpopular ObamaCare down our throats. I had cancer three years ago. Back then my doctors warned me that ObamaCare will decrease quality and increase costs! But what does Dingell care? He is exempt from it. Yet another mistake: The GM bailouts went to UAW hotshots, and the taxpayers are left holding the bill. And now the Mid-East is ablaze (with 4 Americans slain, 1 being ambassador Chris Stevens) and what is Obama worried about? Big Bird! Throw Dingell, Obama, and their ilk out on their behinds and let us take America back!
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.
"I don't think the founders of this country intended for members of Congress to make a lifetime career out of their jobs. Dingell has fed off the public trough for more than half a century." I suggest you check out the careers of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and John Quincy Adams, among others, to see what the "founders" thought of serving a lifetime in Congress. And it is worth noting that when these were not in Congress, the were serving in cabinet positions, as POTUS (JQA), as VPUS (Calhoun), or as ambassador (JQA). No matter how one measures it, lifetime politicians have been with us since the origins of the Republic. Don't like Dingell? Fine. Vote him out. Frankly, I tire of him as well. Perhaps were the Republicans not running an empty suit, and perhaps were Congressional Republicans not being led by right-wing wackos, I could vote for the Republican candidate. But since neither are the case this year, and the latter is likely to be the case for the foreseeable future, I don't see me supporting a Republican candidate for that seat anytime in the near future. BTW, fascinating what your doctor told you. Mine has told me the exact opposite.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.
Ms Kallgren said: "I would not want the government to take over our insurance companies, because I feel we would sacrifice the quality of care," she said. "If you get the government involved, you will not be able to care for your parents, your spouse, your children in the way that you want." While John Dingell's comments about ignorant people running for office were obviously generic, even before Ms. Kallgren was nominated to run against him, I am happy to apply the term to her specifically.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.
Peter: I think you are taking her comments too literally. Of course government is not taking over insurance companies in the classic sense, but you must admit, government is indeed telling them have to do by threat of penalty / force. It doesn't matter what you choose, the result is essentially the same. You've seen how well government involvment into the housing market went, no? "The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits." - Thomas Jefferson
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.
6 ballot proposals the election. Vote "Yes" on #1, and "No" on the rest, and send Dingell and his union cronies a message. This life long politician is the problem with politics today. Time for someone new.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.
Let's be frank: I don't think it's fair to expect this guy to remember anything from a whole three months ago. His long-term memory might be there, though, like when won his first election during the Civil War.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.
I found her to be overly emotional and screechy. Didn't come off as someone understanding what it takes to be a member of Congress.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.
Denies, forgets - both symptoms of dementia.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 11 a.m.
Let's see, a pro business candidate, or a union tool progressive fossil that has run out of other peoples money to spend.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 9:29 a.m.
I didn't think dinasours could speak ..must have missed something in school....
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1 p.m.
For starters you missed the day when they taught the spelling of "dinosaur" ...
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 7:02 a.m.
Non-story! The comment was not about her... "At the time the story ran in July, Dingell was competing in the Democratic primary against 25-year-old University of Michigan student Daniel Marcin." So Ms. Kallgren's (R) race will go down in history as DEFEATED against Congressman John Dingell (D) on November 6th! Thank you for your service Congressman Dingell!
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 5:41 a.m.
Dingle has been pat of the problem since 1955 but Kallgren isn't a solution either. The problem will get worse no matter which candidate wins. Too much infighting, grand standing, special interest influence, and mis-informed and ill informed voters. Michigan is doomed to fail and will soon follow Detroit into the crapper. Governor Snyder is probably the most ethical and responsible public servant this state has seen in a long time and special interest has fought him since he took office. Now special interest wants to burden businesses and government with unsustainable labor contracts through constitutional amendments so that you have approximately 7% of the work force being supported by the rest of the work force lucky enough to have a job. It's not the 1% you have to worry about, it's the 7% who will suck the financial life out of the state.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.
YpsiGirl - shovel ready just wasn't shovel ready..................... And let's talk about all those fine solar jobs...............
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 7:06 a.m.
"Governor Snyder is probably the most ethical and responsible public servant this state has seen in a long time and special interest has fought him since he took office." SO....when is Gov. Snyder who campaigned on Jobs, Jobs, Jobs going to talk about the FACT our state unemployment rate has RISEN the last four months in a row? But, I thought he cut/stole $900 million dollars from the State Rainy Day Fund to give tax cuts to the so-called "job creators"? Where are the jobs? "Governor Snyder is probably the most ethical and responsible public servant this state has seen in a long time...." Laughable, at best.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:11 a.m.
"My opponent is entitled to her own opinion, but she's not entitled to her own facts" OK, this little cliche has had it's 15 minutes of fame. It's time to drop it.
Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:35 p.m.
"When Jimmy Carter was president, he left with a $750 billion national debt," Dingell said. Is it any wonder Dingell talks about Carter that's about the same decade my 90 year old grandfather remembers. I am surprised he didn't expound on Roosevelt (Teddy) and Woodrow Wilson!
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.
Or a more recent and glorious example - G.W. Bush. He was so great that four years after his departure they wouldn't even mention his name at their convention.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.
I would imagine you, on the other hand, talk about Reagan and his grand and glorious era. If not you, I know others certainly do - perhaps your 90 year-old grandfather remembers him, too. Being able to cut, paste and manipulate history to suit one's ideology is a wonderful thing.
Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.
As an independent-leaning mostly Democrat, I keep hoping the Republican party will come up with someone I can seriously consider supporting. It's apparent that time has not come.
Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.
Vivian, You forgot the Stadium St bridge that Dingell gave us. Freebies are better than honest and independant.
Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.
Rob Steele was a good candidate--smart, honest, and not beholden to anybody. Did you not find him acceptable? He ran a pretty good race, considering what an advantage the long-time incumbent Mr. Dingell had by virtue of his name recognition (and voter habit).
Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.
Kallgren thinks the Affordable Care Act means government is taking over insurance companies and that people "will not be able to care for your parents, your spouse, your children in the way that you want." That either ignorant or dishonest. Dingell actually picked the more polite of the two options.
Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.
Apparently, like Dingell, you haven't read the Affordable Care Act either.
Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.
John Dingell is a politician. We cannot believe anything he says. A poster boy for finger pointing, he is.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 3 p.m.
Dingell is past his shelf life, and is the problem with politics today.
Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.
@ arbor: I don't think Goober thought that one through.
Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.
A guy like John Dingell will never last. A one-term wonder.
Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.
I guess that means we cannot trust Ms. Kallgren, either. Right?