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Weiland Flies Progressive Colors in Rotary Forum

The Sioux Falls Rotary Club held a Senate candidates' forum yesterday, and everyone showed up, even GOP front-slumper Mike Rounds, who asserted that he hadn't planned to attend but was freed up because the Rosebud Sioux Tribe disinvited him from a Native American Day event over his support for Keystone XL.

Nationally buzzworthy Democrat Rick Weiland fearlessly flew his anti-Keystone XL flag and other progressive colors. Asked by Rotary moderator Jack Marsh whether we should build or block the Canadian tar sands pipeline, Weiland looked Sioux Falls' grey-haired dons of business in the eye and said Keystone XL is an export pipeline that offers no jobs and no energy for the U.S. He said Keystone XL backers like Rounds have resorted to the "relieve the rails" argument because they've lost the jobs and energy arguments. And for good measure, Weiland dismissed that new argument, saying Keystone XL won't get Bakken oil off the rails because Bakken producers want the flexibility to put their products on trains. Weiland got back-up from Independent Larry Pressler, who said he wants more pipelines to move North Dakota oil but that Keystone XL won't do that.

Weiland happily painted himself progressive in other statements. In his opening bio, Weiland emphasized his work for Tom Daschle as staffer and for Bill Clinton as regional FEMA director. On a question about role models, Weiland agreed with Pressler on Teddy Roosevelt's awesomnimnity, then declared Franklin D. Roosevelt a "phenomenal" president for creating the modern social safety net.

Rounds tried to sound a little progressive on the minimum wage, saying he supports reviewing the minimum wage every year to consider a raise based on market factors. Weiland still took Rounds to the woodshed, saying that our pending ballot measure to raise the minimum wage to $8.50, with automatic yearly inflation adjustments, is a good idea and that it beats the tedious yearly battles Rounds's plan would bring.

And while Rounds continued to bleat his disingenuous insurance-salesman call to repeal Obamacare and let the market drive health care reform, Weiland continued to follow his clever tack of blaming the weaknesses of the Affordable Care Act on the insurance industry and calling for the opening of Medicare to everyone as a public option to promote competition. In a slight retreat from the progressive faith, Weiland emphasized that he does not favor the single-payer system, contrary to Mike Rounds's false attacks. However, he staunchly defends Medicare, reminding voters that Medicare runs on 3% overhead compared to 17% for private insurance, and pays its government CEO $175K a year compared to the multi-million-dollar salaries of private insurance CEOs. He ended his ACA response with his familiar reminder that no one he talks to would trade Medicare for private insurance.

Weiland's smart, policy-rich performance at the Sioux Falls Rotary yesterday shows he's keeping the progressive faith. In a suddenly tight, suddenly marquee three-way race, Weiland isn't getting nervous and triangulating for conservative votes. He's staking his hopes on the idea that progressive values can resonate in South Dakota.

p.s.: Kudos to the Sioux Falls Rotary for its rapid-fire format, holding candidates to 30-second answers on several questions. That pace challenges candidates to focus their answers, punishes them for diversion and distraction, and shows us who has details on the tip of their tongue.

But unkudos for their ban on candidates' commenting on other candidates. It may make us feel good (and the Rotarians did applaud themselves) for banning what they dismiss as negative campaigning, but compare-and-contrast is a basic English-class assignment, something I teach every student to do in writing and speaking. We have to be able to put candidates side by side, identify their likenesses and differences, and make an informed choice. Allowing a candidate to say, "I support X, my opponent doesn't, here's why those positions matter" is a key part of informing voters.


  1. john tsitrian 2014.10.14

    Rounds' lack of intellectual and rhetorical depth is probably his biggest liability, relying as he does on canned GOP talking points. It's obvious now why he runs scared from debates. A coherent 11th grader could successfully make the pro-KXL pitch better than this poor excuse for a Republican senatorial candidate. Kudos to Rick for seizing on Rounds' inability to articulate a politically coercive position, particularly as he might be able to neutralize the nearly 3-to-1 support for KXL in South Dakota. The rest of the statewide field won't be able to have such luck.

  2. Lynn 2014.10.14

    John if Rounds has had a life in sales selling insurance wouldn't you think he would be much better explaining, selling himself and policies than coming across as a GOP drone?

  3. toclayco 2014.10.14

    The moderator's name is Jack Marsh.

  4. john tsitrian 2014.10.14

    Not necessarily, Lynn. An insurance salesman's pitch isn't delivered under the glare of public scrutiny. When I saw Rounds stammering and getting defensive during that primary debate where Stace blew him away I realized that MMR is out of his element.

  5. john tsitrian 2014.10.14

    toclayo, I'm in the dark about your comment. Would you mind explaining?

  6. Lynn 2014.10.14

    John if this guy gets elected it won't say much for South Dakota.

  7. john tsitrian 2014.10.14

    +1, Lynn. I also think it would be a detriment to South Dakota's political interests if its Congressional delegation were composed of 3 Republicans. As a practical political matter I'd like to have a rep in D.C. who will caucus with Democrats to make sure SD's interests get some attention from them.

  8. Nick Nemec 2014.10.14

    Color me skeptical but I will not believe Mike Rounds' explanation that the Rosebud people withdrew their invitation to address a Native American Day event until the Rosebud Sioux Tribe confirms his claim. Mike Rounds has a history of telling half truths and outright lies that requires every statement out of his mouth to be independently verified.

    More than likely he figured he had the Rotary crowd in the bag and didn't want to appear for fear of stepping in dog poop and then sticking his foot in his mouth. His attendance at this event is proof he's really feeling the heat now.

  9. Jana 2014.10.14

    To back John's statement is that junior Senators of the same party as the senior Senator are ineffectual and unimportant.

  10. Bill Fleming 2014.10.14

    Win or lose, Rick Weiland is writing a step by step primer on how a smart progressive candidate can run a strong uncompromising populist campaign in a red state. Heck even Pressler is a Weiland wannabe. Attention SD Dems, thinking of throwing your vote down the 'maybe-I-will-maybe-I-won't' Larry Pressler rabbit hole: why vote for rope-dope Larry when you've got Rick out there in the ring swinging hard?

  11. jerry 2014.10.14

    In agreement, a populist senator would represent all of South Dakota's interests and not toe any kind of party line. You are correct with the take on having an all republican delegation to Washington as it would be lopsided and follow strict party lines to represent only the chosen few.

  12. Nick Nemec 2014.10.14

    Rope-a-dope Larry is the best description I've heard of Pressler's tactics this election. He's coming across as mealy mouthed and wanting to be all things to all people. I can only go on his voting record of 20 years ago, I didn't like it back then I don't like it now.

  13. Jaka 2014.10.14

    I agree w/you Nick N-he wasn't much good for the average 'Joe" then and he hasn't really changed to where we should give him 6 yrs now. Why not put someone in the senate for a couple of terms anyway that truly has the fire in his belly to serve ALL South Dakotans--not just the Republican handlers. Thune has always had his wet finger in the air seeing how the wind was blowing and going in that direction. As a congressman, he served the upper 5% quite well and never responded to those on the lower economic scale except to infer that they weren't pulling on their bootstraps hard enough....

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.14

    Yesterday on the DWC blog I had an exchange with Troy Jones, he tried to rub my face in the no-show Rounds debates by saying Rounds attended the Rotary debate only because the Rosebud disinvited from a Native American Day forum because of Rounds support for Keystone XL. That was the first I learned about the disinvite.
    The single biggest powwow going on in the state was in Rapid City over the weekend celebrating Native American Day, during this event there numerous workshops, forums, etc. I'm wondering if this is what Troy was referring to.
    I remain skeptical about Troy's claims of being disinvited.

  15. Paul Seamans 2014.10.14

    I can believe that Mike Rounds was disinvited because of his stance on the KXL. The Rosebud is very active in the fight against the KXL and the fight to protect our water. The Spiritual Camp by Ideal is there in order to bring attention to Rosebud's stand against the pipeline (the KXL would run right by the camp).

  16. mike from iowa 2014.10.14

    Wingnuts want informed voters?

  17. larry kurtz 2014.10.14

    We're going to win this thing, people.

  18. Tim 2014.10.14

    "In agreement, a populist senator would represent all of South Dakota's interests and not toe any kind of party line. You are correct with the take on having an all republican delegation to Washington as it would be lopsided and follow strict party lines to represent only the chosen few."

    Jerry, you mean like state government is now?

  19. Jessie 2014.10.14

    Looks like Rick has a great big crowd in SF at the Labor Temple tonight. Focus is on minimum wage. I see plenty of press with cameras in his tweeted photos.

  20. mike from iowa 2014.10.14

    Clinton's FEMA did a heck of a job,the way it was supposed to. Dumbass dubya's FEMA was a cluster **** waiting to happen.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.14

    Lanny, Weiland can't prevent that outside money from coming in... and while he said Saturday he'd like those groups to back off, I think that position is nuts. Weiland needs all the help he can get.

    And in the case of Mayday PAC, to which of Mayday's nearly 63,000 donors will Weiland be specifically beholden? 50% of their money has come from donors giving $5000 or less. What's the worst that happens from taking Mayday PAC money: Senator Weiland listens to Professor Lessig and proposes more legislation to push big money out of politics and loosen copyright restrictions to promote creativity and economic development?

  22. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.10.14

    Cory, While I am hopeful that Weiland is a new kind of pol for SD, I am sick and tired of getting the form letter whether from Republicans or Democrats anytime that I contact them on an issue to me, telling me why they had to vote the other way from what I had requested, whether Thune, Johnson and Noem on stopping undying support for Israel or against the support for the jihadist now ISIS trying to overthrow first Gadaffi and now Assad, or whether it was for Daschle and Johnson when I asked them not to support the Bush tax cuts or to go to war with Iraq or asking them and Herseth Sandlin not to continue funding that war.

    I guess I am naive to think that my 50 bucks could somehow make a difference, but I remember when Dashle first ran and when Pressler first ran, they ran the same kind of grassroots campaign that Rick is running now, without all the money and out talking to voters. If that no longer works, then I wish they would stop asking me for money, cause like it or not, when the big bucks come in, I know who they are going to listen to.

  23. grudznick 2014.10.14

    When did Mr. Weiland become the big-money monster he rages against? Will he next be driving his BMW around and eating at expensive cafes that serve tiny portions for huge cost?

  24. larry kurtz 2014.10.14

    When did Mike Rounds become the nepotistic cult member he revels in? Will he be driving his bass boat around the swamp in which he built a self-insured house after being jilted by his own pathetic campaign?

  25. grudznick 2014.10.14

    Lar does Mr. Rounds have a bass boat and if so should he sell it to buy more tv time?

  26. larry kurtz 2014.10.14

    Mike Rounds should leave the race and support Gordon Howie to overgod yer stupid ass, grud.

  27. Nick Nemec 2014.10.14

    I don't know if Rounds has a bass boat but he does own an airplane and a house on the Missouri River flood plain.

  28. grudznick 2014.10.14

    That would be bad news indeed. Rounds seems to be a godder and if he joined forces with and threw his 38% in with Mr. Howie's 5% that's like 43% and they would overgod us all.

  29. grudznick 2014.10.14

    Mr. Nemec, I will defer to your fishing expertise over Mr. kurtz, but it doesn't make much sense if you live on the Missouri River to have a bass boat. Aren't bass boats a low profile craft that is best suited for lakes and weeds and panfish? My opinion of Mr. Rounds is lesser if he has a bass boat in a walleye world.

  30. Nick Nemec 2014.10.14

    $100,000 cabin cruisers are nearly standard in his neighborhood but, like I said grudz I have no idea what, if any, type of boat the former governor owns.

  31. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.14

    I think that Joop Bollen bought Mike Rounds that airplane with some of the $140 million in immigration fees Rounds allowed him to rip off.

  32. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.10.14

    Lanny, that was a great link to Colbert. Hahahaha!

  33. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.10.14

    It is wonderful to hear a politician stick to his guns rather than pander. Woo-hoo! South Dakotans, vote for a Real Fellow South Dakotan!

  34. Les 2014.10.14

    SD had a populist in SHS and you unelected her. That should make RW very nervous.

  35. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.10.14

    Surely you jest Les. SHS was a blue dog democrat which is a first cousin to the tea party Republicans, who by the way are now rallying around MMR cause they know Howie can't win and of course party is ever so much more important than the State or the Country.

  36. Les 2014.10.15

    RW might be populist by a purported plan of action.
    SHS was populist by to he fact she drove all three parties to the poll and by the facts I saw from a personal basis in my many trips to DC and my communications from her. She was by no means my idea of a TP congressperson with her always ongoing pragmatism which irritated me on more than one occasion. I will say she exhibited a chicken s attitude and it cost her. To say the Dems from this site are not happy with her and allowed Noem's entry assures me that no Democratic Party will ever rule SD.
    We are stuck with what we have because of those holding their nose and voting Rounds and those voting against change because every little aspect of a candidate doesn't fit.

  37. Bill Fleming 2014.10.15

    Les, what the heck are you talking about? SHS lost her race because West River Tea Partiers threw her under the bus even though she voted exactly the way they wanted her to.

  38. larry kurtz 2014.10.15

    les and bree both show up after long hiatuses: damned queer, init?

  39. Peter 2014.10.15

    Les, SHS could have stayed in the race but the Dem party is somewhat divided in SD, and I hope it can solidify for the greater good. The fact that SHS has not endorsed Weiland, when it could mean who controls the senate is disconcerting. I hope she comes out soon, as I think it would be of great help to Weiland at this point.

  40. Bree S. 2014.10.15

    I've been reading the blog Larry. I didn't feel a need to post.

  41. larry kurtz 2014.10.15

    You should be really angry that your political party engineered a coup in the primary, Bree.

  42. Bree S. 2014.10.15

    Everyone should be angry over the shenanigans involved with this race.

  43. jerry 2014.10.15

    Okay then, seems like everyone is totally po'ed at the way this race has been handled on the republican side of things. Tough luck, get better representation next time and purge the skunks that supported corruption more than your moral high ground.

    On the other side of the tracks, I, for one, am very happy that Rick Weiland got the nod to run against the republican. I probably will never see SHS as doing as good of job as she did her first term in Washington and should stick to the state government. I think she would make an excellent governor, but should stay in the states boundary's. If she does not get out in the last 3 weeks of this race and give her approval of Rick Weiland, then she should probably always just work where she is and forgetaboutit for the future of politics.

  44. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.15

    Stephanie sold out her strongest political base by not supporting Obamacare.
    Stephanie is not running for any office nor has gotten involved in any public campaigning or endorsements.
    Why is she relevant?

  45. Troy 2014.10.15


    I wasn't there but had the same initial reaction you did regarding your unkudo and not allowing compare and contrast. I asked a member of that Rotary and he said that is how they do it there. Want to cover more issues, ask the candidates the same question, and prefer to compare and contrast the answers themselves vs. having the candidates spin the other guys answer.

    Just a FYI on their rationale.

  46. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.15

    Thanks, Troy! I appreciate the rationale, but I still think the ban on talking about the other candidate is an inartful way to achieve that end. You and I can each address a topic, point out why we think each other's approach is wrong, and still leave it to our listeners to fairly judge which of us is making more sense.

    But to the extent that telling candidates to talk strictly about their own platform and not explicitly challenge others' platforms allows the forum to cover more topics, I can live with the ban... although I'd have a hard time biting my tongue in that hot seat.

  47. Troy 2014.10.15

    Forgot one thing. Because it is a noon hour long meeting, they eat and they have other agenda items, the time for the candidates is under 20 minutes vs. most debates being an hour.

    Anyway, I am now convinced this made it more interesting overall. If you aren't, you're just a stubborn debate coach or I'm not good at convincing. :)

  48. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.15

    Hey Troy,
    I tried following up on our Rotary non-debate discussion on DWC, but Powers kept deleting me. Glad you showed up where censorship isn't a priority for Cory.
    Anyway, you told me that the only reason for Rounds showing up for the Rotary event was that the Rosebud Sioux disinvited or uninvited him to Native American Day event because of Rounds position on Keystone.
    I tried asking you the source of that information and if Rounds was actually at the Rosebud event and asked to leave or did someone call Rounds and tell him to kiss off?
    In retrospect, Rounds chose the safer place to visit since no one would be able to call him out on EB-5.
    If Rounds attended the Rosebud event, he may have returned to Pierre with less hair, I think he picked the easy forum that day.

  49. jerry 2014.10.15

    Good question on the relevancy of SHS Roger. I would answer that like this, the only way SHS will ever be relevant in the future would be to make an endorsement very soon. Simple as that. If she does not put on her big girl boots and make those endorsements, then people like myself, will never support her in the future. It may come to not having a choice but to vote for her, but my checkbook will be as tight as a frogs fanny.

  50. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.10.15

    Troy, you wrote, "The time for the candidates is under 20 minutes vs. most debates being an hour."

    Is that the ones that MMR skipped leading up to the Republican primary as well as the ones he has skipped leading up to the general? I respect you, but given that the corruption is becoming more obvious every day I don't understand how you or any other Republican can support MMR when there are two other Republicans in the race. It is like the party is more important than the State or Country.

  51. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.15

    Lanny, what do you think of this?
    Can we expect Mike Rounds to buy 15 to 30 min ad time on television and radio to deny his role in the Mike Rounds EB-5 scandal.
    It would well scripted and there would be no opportunity to challenging questions and just deny and explain. It would probably run the day before election to limit any response time.

  52. tara volesky 2014.10.15

    A 30 second commercial on KELO is now $3000 dollars.

  53. Les 2014.10.15

    Flem, your memory of the numbers on Noem/Herseth differs from mine. There was a very indifferent statewide Democratic support for Steph. I well remember as a conservative, being disappointed in my Dem friends careless attitude, allowing the better candidate "incumbent" to lose by a slim margin.
    I've not had opportunity to question her integrity or intelligence as compared to our current congresswoman. Social ideals, not so good at times.
    When Herseth voted against Obamacare, that was the wishes of most of the state. By not voting or voting her out over that you guaranteed worthless votes for impeachment and repealing Ocare as directed by Boehner. We will see how relevant Herseth is when the Dems get serious about putting their party back in business.
    Has your party asked her for support or does RW have to do the whole job by himself?

  54. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.15

    Actually know one really knows whether or not Stephanie is working behind the scenes for Rick, Stephanie still has contacts in D.C. and Democratic Party and may feel supporting Rick may damage him.
    It would not surprise at all if Stephanie is working the phones and raising money for Rick.

  55. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.16

    Troy, I did like the rapid-fire nature of the event. They packed as many questions and answers into the extended noon meeting as they could (and they did appear to truncate their program and give the candidates more time than a normal Rotary meeting... and rightly so, given the importance of the guests, the job they seek, and the issues discussed).

    We could argue that 30-second responses are too sound-bitey... but I did like the fact that in those 30 seconds, they really didn't have time to fumble around looking for a response. Either they were ready to answer or they weren't. This format was a good test of their immediate grasp of issues.

    But content-wise, I still think candidates should be able to use those 30 seconds to say, "My opponent's policy is wrong, mine's right, here are the differences—pow pow pow!"

  56. Troy 2014.10.16


    From their perspective, they wanted them to use the 30 seconds as the affirmative side, no negative* side and no rebuttal leaving the listeners to discern the negative and rebuttal.

    * For those that aren't familiar with debate, I'm using negative in a debate format context and not the common perception compare/contrast is negative (in the vernacular), ala "negative ads."

    In debate, the affirmative side asserts a proposition/position. The negative side argues against the proposition. And rebuttals are expressing disagreement with the rationale of the other side. (Did I get that right Cory? Been 35 years since I was in debate.)

  57. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.16

    Yup, Troy, you do have it right. The Rotary basically asked for a series of Affirmative ("1AC") summaries.

    Your asterisk on the different meanings of "negative" is very important. I don't want "negative" as in "mean and nasty" or "degrading to the quality of public discourse." I crave "negative" as in "responding directly to and refuting affirmative claims." Politics needs more debate coaches!

  58. Troy 2014.10.16


    I knew you weren't advocating the vernacular negative. Glad I remember my debate fundamentals and getting confirmation from you.

    I don't want us to discuss it now because every comment will get measured for its adherence to political agenda (and the heat of the campaign will also affect the prism with which people see it) but the body language of the panel was quite interesting. Most of us consciously process what is said and subconsciously synthesize it with the non-verbal.

  59. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.16

    Body language? Oh my, we are going to get weedy. I welcome private observations, if you prefer, Troy. But let me note that I pretty much ignored the body language: I played the video but mostly listened, keeping my head down on my notes. Was there a Nixon-JFK difference? Who was sweating?

  60. Troy 2014.10.17

    Make your assessment on body language. :)

  61. Paul Seamans 2014.10.17

    I know this is getting a little late but I will post it anyways. I was at the Rosebud Spiritual Camp near Ideal today to listen to Rick Weiland. I asked one of the Rosebud tribal members that is in the know if the Rosebud Council disinvited Mike Rounds to the Rez. He said that is not true, in fact they have been inviting Mike to the Rosebud so they can ask him the tough questions on the KXL, amongst other things. Mike has evidently written the reservations off, could be a big mistake.

  62. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.17

    I have been trying to find out information on that since Troy Jones mentioned it a few days ago, I didn't think the disinvite was true. Mike Rounds would probably scared poopless to face a crowd of angry Indians.
    Heck, he hasn't faced a tv camera for a debate in over 50 days, he wouldn't dare go to the reservation.
    I asked some follow up questions earlier on this thread, but he chose to ignore me, like Mike Rounds ignores Indians.

  63. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.10.17

    Paul and Roger, MMR's fear of facing a Native American crowd goes much deeper than that. People forget the way he dissed the Yankton Sioux Tribe at Marty back in '07 or '08. He sent 31 Highway Patrol officers with raised rifles to stop the Tribe from blocking the BIA highway which runs into Marty. They were trying to stop the hog farm from Hull IA from starting the Long View Farms Sow/baby pig factory two miles above the preschool which sets on the north end of Marty. The effluent flows downhill into the town and then into the Missouri River just on the other side of town. Roumds' South Dakota Water Management board disallowed the protest against the permit for the water usage for that farm.

    Additionally, several of the tribes sought and expansion in the number of gambling machines to keep up with the casinos in the area outside of the State, but Rounds refused to allow that expansion. A Native American who would vote for him or DD, is voting against their own best interests. The Senate Majority leader, Knutson and the Minority Leader Heidipriem both candidates for Governor in 2010, were in favor of a casino either run by the tribe or the State, here in SF, to stop the flow of gambling dollars across the border ten miles from SF into Iowa. But since neither of them was elected governor, it never was even brought to a vote in the legislature. Millions of "economic development" dollars are allowed to leave the state every week because of this blunder.

  64. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.18

    Paul, I never ding comments for being "late". I'm happy to have useful information come in any time. I remain curious about Rounds's strange, seemingly unnecessary claim of a disinvite from a tribal event. Whether true or false, what good does that statement do him? What votes does it win him?

  65. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.18

    It gets Mike the redneck voters that think it is beneath Rounds to mingle with Indians.
    As Paul points out, the Rosebud tribe did want to talk to Mike Rounds about Keystone XL, as in typical fashion Rounds dodged any confrontation and wen to the sage venue where no questions would asked of him about EB-5.

  66. tara volesky 2014.10.18

    MMR and DD were both invited to the Pine Ridge candidate forum. MMR didn't even respond to the invitation.

  67. Les 2014.10.18

    Find a West River redneck voting for Mike Rounds and I'll buy dinner.

Comments are closed.