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Ellison Seeks Afghan Withdrawl, Safe Zones for Syrians

Meanwhile, a Twitter skirmish with GOP rival Chris Fields on the home front.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) spoke out about armed conflict in Afghanistan and Syria last week with op-ed columns and a cable news appearance.

Ellison wrote an op-ed titled "Get U.S. Troops out of Afghanistan" that appeared at CNN.com on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden:

We have diminished al Qaeda's strength, so for the sake of our economic and national security, we should decrease our military presence and bring our troops home from Afghanistan as soon as is safely possible.

Ellison also appeared on CNN to discuss the issue (see CNN video above).

Ellison called for safe zones along Syria's borders in an op-ed published in the Star Tribune Monday:

The United States must lead the international community in establishing safe zones to protect innocent Syrian civilians and send a clear message to Assad: the killing has to stop.

Ellison was in the Fifth District for a series of events, including a where the winning entry is destiined for display at the U.S. Capitol.

But a GOP rival claimed Ellison wasn't present at a couple events. On Friday, endorsed Republican candidate Chris Fields tweeted:

@EllisonCampaign @ellisoncampaign didn't even show up for his own Open House. As always everyone matters except you!

That prompted a flurry of rebuttals and a second accusation of an Ellison absence at another event (see the Ellison campaign YouTube video above and see a Storify of the Twitter exchange here), culminating in this statement from the Ellison campaign:

"Saturday morning, as Congressman Ellison was speaking to working families about ensuring health care access for all, Republican-endorsed candidate Chris Fields took to Twitter to smear Keith Ellison.

"Fields tweeted that Congressman Ellison skipped his own campaign's open house on Wednesday. Over 100 Minnesotans who attended the event know Fields' statement is untrue. After it became apparent that Fields was caught lying about Ellison missing the open house, he pivoted to a new lie and claimed Ellison didn't attend an event at the University of Minnesota. Kristin, Jake, Lubna, Dina, Ben and other University of Minnesota students at the event would beg to differ. They enjoyed talking to Congressman Ellison about how we can make college affordable without pitting students against funding for women's health.

"Instead of dealing with lies and smears, the people of the Fifth District deserve a lively debate about solutions and how to move our country forward. Congressman Ellison has outlined a vision for job creation, maintaining affordable health care and creating prosperity for working families. That’s why the people of Minnesota's Fifth District have elected Keith Ellison three times to represent their voice in Washington.

"We call for a higher discourse and ask Mr. Fields to focus on the issues and not smears."

David F May 08, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I would agree with Congressman Ellison. The US has been in Afganistan for over 10 years and the strain is showing on the US military. The human and dollar costs have been to high and we need to get out of a country that no army has been able to conquer. Remember the line about learning from history?
Candace Oathout May 08, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Perhaps Keith Ellison should spend more of his time in the district he represents instead of focusing on International issues. His district suffered a devastating tornado last year. Where is Keith's representation of his Northside constituents? I agree that our troops should come home from Afghanistan. Why does Keith want to set up a similar conflict in Syria? How does his position represent his district's voters? Don't you think it's time he represented the people who elected him rather than international interests?
Caitlin Burgess May 08, 2012 at 03:10 PM
While I agree Rep. Ellison has responsibilities in his own district to attend to, I would say that being a U.S. Congressman requires him to represent the United States at home and internationally. And his background makes him a likely choice to address issues in the Middle East. When the tornado hit, he did go to the damaged areas, talked with residents who lost their homes and so on.
LaMarcus Washington May 15, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Where in the U.S. Constitution does it require Congressmen to represent the U.S. internationally? Oh yeah, that's right...it does NOT! A U.S. Congressman's job description is to represent his home district constituents in the U.S. House of Representatives...not to act as an envoy for the State Department, which falls under the EXECUTIVE branch. Ellison is a complete disgrace to Minnesota. As an African-American myself, I believe he is a disgrace to our own race as well, with all his racist rhetoric against white voters. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be rolling over in his grave.

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