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As others see it: High praise for Minnesota debates

This year as in many years, election politics have come to resemble a Louisiana swamp, complete with alligators that'll chomp and devour the unwary. But there's one island in America that rises above it all. There, visitors for weeks now have fou...

This year as in many years, election politics have come to resemble a Louisiana swamp, complete with alligators that'll chomp and devour the unwary.

But there's one island in America that rises above it all. There, visitors for weeks now have found fresh air, dry land (vital for a solid footing) and more than enough time to study the candidates and their views.

This minor Isle of Political Paradise is the home of the Minnesota governor's race. Its dominant feature is the 26 debates that the candidates have taken part in since the August primaries.

What an asset the debates have proven to be for the candidates and the voters alike. And what a lesson the rest of America could learn from Minnesota's example.

Twenty-six debates! The three major candidates deserve a tremendous salute for agreeing to such a number. "They'll go down in history for it," said Larry Jacobs, director of the Humphrey Institute's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, to Minnesota Public Radio -- and he's right. ...

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Who would have thought that three such different politicians as Mark Dayton, Tom Horner and Tom Emmer would get along? But that's exactly what happened as the candidates exchanged good-humored banter and barbs with each other as they met in veterans' halls and other venues again and again.

"This has been fantastic," Emmer told Minnesota Public Radio. "This has given me the opportunity with these two fine men to introduce myself to Minnesotans all over the state."

In few other races will candidates cap their campaigns by calling their opponents "fine men."

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