Howard Root’s counterpoint op-ed highlights the one big mistake that might sink Tina Smith.

In his op-ed, he wrote “When the Star Tribune endorsed Tina Smith over Karin Housley for the U.S. Senate special election (“They’ll do nation’s teamwork,” Oct. 21), its editorial board had a major advantage over the voters of Minnesota — they got to hear Smith answer questions. While Smith couldn’t find 30 minutes the other evening to participate in the only publicly televised debate in this campaign, she somehow managed to find the time to sit down for a private interview with the newspaper.”

By not participating in the debate, Tina Smith essentially admitted what Minnesotans are increasingly finding out — that she’d her butt kicked in a substantive debate if she went up against Karin Housley. We also saw the terrible campaign being run by Tina Smith. The optics couldn’t get much worse than this:

What campaign manager thinks that having an empty podium sends the right message?

Why was Smith a no-show for the Oct. 21 debate that was broadcast live statewide on KSTP and its four affiliates? Five days before the long-planned debate, her campaign cited “a complicated schedule” that precluded Smith from participating and cameras were left showing Karin Housley on stage answering questions next to an empty podium.

This was the only televised debate in which voters could see and hear the candidates provide impromptu answers to questions asked by an impartial moderator — yet the unelected senator refused to show up.

Let’s state something fairly obvious. Tina Smith is pretending to know and/or care about parts of the state she knows nothing or little about. She doesn’t know anything about pipelines. She knows even less about agriculture. It isn’t like Tina Smith is winning over Trump voters in rural Minnesota.

If Tina Smith keeps running a terrible campaign and Karin Housley keeps running a positive, upbeat campaign, it’s likely that Mrs. Smith won’t go back to Washington.

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