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Torgerson says Rep. Ellison doesn’t see the U.S. Constitution as ‘supreme’

MSNBC’s The Ed Show on MSNBC turned its focus on Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District race as candidate Lynne Torgerson spoke with Rev. Al Sharpton about incumbent Rep. Keith Ellison last night. The contentious back and forth centered on Torgerson’s claim that Ellison, a Muslim, doesn’t hold the U.S. Constitution “supreme” over Shariah law. Her beef: Ellison said the U.S. Constitution is the “bedrock” of American law, but didn’t say it was “supreme.”

Torgerson announced her candidacy last week on the Tea Party Nation website, where she called Ellison a “radical Islamist” who “fails to oppose banning Islamic Sharia law in the United States.” Ellison responded, stating in an email to supporters that “Torgerson intends to run a campaign based on hate, division, and fear. Just like in 2010, we’re not going to let our opponent’s divisive rhetoric set the tone of this campaign.”

On The Ed Show, Sharpton asked Torgerson, “What evidence do you have that he’s not committed to the Constitution?”

Torgerson replied, stating that she’s “not anti-Muslim in any way, shape or form,” before going on to say, “Mr. Congressman Ellison has been long been associated with the most extremist groups around. He has close ties to CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic relations, which was a named co-conspirator to funding terrorism in the Holy Land Foundation trial—”

Sharpton interrupted her to again ask her whether she has evidence to back her claim that the congressman doesn’t hold the Constitution “supreme” or whether she’s “fearmongering and demagoguing to get votes.”

She says Ellison “refused” to answer the question, but Sharpton noted that in a clip played on the show and credited to Torgerson’s campaign Ellison answers it.

“I believe that the United States Constitution, which has been amended well over 25 times, is the bedrock of American law,” Ellison said in the clip. “This whole movement to ban Shariah — bills like this have been introduced in 22 states — in my view is a very thinly disguised effort at religious persecution of people that are Muslim.”

To that, Torgerson said, “Actually, what he said is the U.S. Constitution is the bedrock of American law. That does not answer the question of what should be supreme currently… Mr. Ellison actually evaded the question.”

Ellison’s office sent a statement to The Ed Show underscoring his stance and taking Torgerson to task for her “extreme” and “intolerant” rhetoric:

I took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion for all Americans. Religious acceptance is a deeply rooted American value, and regardless of political persuasion, it’s a value we must protect.

It’s too bad that someone can obtain so much attention based on their intolerant rhetoric, especially when unemployment is above 9 percent. On the other hand, the nation will be able to see how extreme the rhetoric has become. I call on all Americans to reject religious intolerance and embrace our constitution which upholds the promise of liberty and justice for all people.

One other question Sharpton asked: Since Ellison got 68 percent of the vote in 2010, compared to Torgerson’s nearly 4 percent, “Is 68 percent of your district radical Islamic sympathizers?”

“No sir, I wouldn’t say so,” she said. Asked why so many people voted for Ellison, she answered, “I don’t believe people yet know what his associations and his actual agenda is.”

Torgerson, who ran as an independent against Ellison in 2010, tells Roll Call that this time around she’ll be running as a Republican.

Here’s the exchange, via Chris Steller at Patch.com Fridley:

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