Democrat Senator Tom Harkin today suggested he and his opponents take a few hours off Saturday to shoot at pheasants rather than each other. Harkin sent a letter to his Republican rival Greg Gasket, inviting Ganske to hunt with him for a couple of hours near Coon Rapids on the Garst farm. The senator says “You gotta have some fun,” with all the serious campaigning going on, and says it’s a genuine offer to go hunting together, see who gets the first bird, and make a little side wager on how many shots it’ll take to bag one. Ganske commercials criticize Harkin for once saying the country would be better off if all the handguns in America were dumped in the ocean. This morning, Harkin held a news conference in a hunting preserve and said Ganske’s commercials led him to believe that Ganske enjoys hunting as much as he does, and that’s why he issued the invitation.Harkin says he’s been a friend of hunters all his life, owns several guns himself, supports the rights of sportsmen and calls the ads “totally misleading.” Harkin said the two have been “through a long campaign” and he was offering a “truce for a few hours” on Saturday morning, starting with a pancake breakfast for hunters at the American Legion in Coon Rapids.Harkin says he and Ganske both supported trigger-locks, and a ban on assault weapons, but says nobody’s promoting a ban on hunting shotguns and says nobody will take away his own gun. Ganske campaign spokesman Curt Mercadante says they’re not going to respond to the “cheap media stunt,” and then responds that Harkin’s trying to run from his past and his political record. Mercadante says Harkin commits deception every election year and calls this a “cheap media stunt,” adding that Harkin’s running defensive ads responding to charges in Ganske’s ads. Mercadante quotes Harkin in a passage used in Ganske’s TV ads, talking about “stopping the sale and manufacture and importation of guns in this country.” Mercadante says Harkin’s claiming the quotes are taken out of context, but insists the senator didn’t say what kind of guns he was talking about.
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