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Lewis visits Rochester, styles himself the 'law and order' candidate

He said the "the fundamental duty of government is restoring public order and backing the blue."

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Jason Lewis, a former congressman and current candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks during a MAGA Back the Blue BBQ Meet-Up Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, at the Trump Victory Office in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
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Billing himself the "law and order" candidate, Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis campaigned in Rochester on Tuesday, predicting a "silent majority" of voters would make their voices heard during the November election and produce a second term for President Trump.

The former conservative talk-show host spoke to about 60 people near the Republican Victory office in Southwest Rochester. Lewis, who served a one-year term in the U.S. House before being defeated by Rep. Angie Craig, is running to unseat U.S. Sen. Tina Smith.

During a 15-minute speech, Lewis criticized state DFL leaders' approach to taming the virus as heavy-handed and economically destructive; said Democrats would seek to impose a nanny state if elected; and lashed out at the current Democrat-led House for failing to pass a single budget.

"They have been too busy investigating, too busy impeaching, too busy doing anything but the people's business," he said. "The fundamental duty of government is restoring public order and backing the blue."

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Marthamae Kottschade, of Rochester, speaks during a MAGA Back the Blue BBQ Meet-Up Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, at the Trump Victory Office in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Like candidates from both sides of the aisle, Lewis also called the Nov. 3 election "the most important election of your life." He warned that if Democrats and Joe Biden win in November, "you will be looking out over a state and country that your parents won't recognize. Everything is on the line."

One of his main points was that the Democratic Party had been hijacked by "The Squad," a group of congressional women made up of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

"There is no pandemic exception to the Bill of Rights," he told the crowd. "We can lose all of this in a New York minute."

Lewis also took issue with the lockdown and other measures taken to contain the coronavirus pandemic, saying the actions taken in some cases were not only wrong, but scandalous.

"It's time to undo this Orwellian lockdown," he said.

"Never in the history of our country — not in the Hong Kong flu, not in H1N1, not during the 1957 pandemic — did we lock down the healthy and deliberately infect the elderly by taking COVID-19-positive patients and put them in nursing homes," he said.

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Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose speaks during a MAGA Back the Blue BBQ Meet-Up Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, at the Trump Victory Office in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Gov. Tim Walz has defended that policy, saying his government was following federal guidance.

"This was not a mistake," he said in May.

After his speech, Lewis was asked whether such dark and apocalyptic language was appropriate to describe a victory by Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee. Biden served in the Senate and was Barack Obama's vice president. He was also a moderate voice on the Democratic debate stage, compared to other, more progressive presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

"Which Joe Biden?" Lewis said. "That's the question. You could have said that 30 years ago, and I think you would have had a point. The fundamental problem you have is, that they have been hijacked by the Squad."

An Emerson College poll showed Smith leading by 3 points, 48% to 45%. Lewis said those numbers failed to capture the strength of his candidacy because they don't include the people who hang up on pollsters, the silent majority.

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Jason Lewis, a former congressman and current candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks during a MAGA Back the Blue BBQ Meet-Up Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, at the Trump Victory Office in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

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In 2018, Republicans took a shellacking in the midterms, losing the House to Nancy Pelosi's Democrats. Many interpreted the vote as a repudiation of Trump. But Lewis predicted that voters who shunned voting in 2018 would return to the polls.

"We had a pretty bad midterm," he said. "But the good news is in 2020, they're coming back to vote for President Trump."

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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