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Miller calls media coverage of evolution comments 'a complete distortion'

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First District Republican candidate Aaron Miller said recent media coverage of his comments regarding evolution are "a complete fabrication and distortion" of what he said.

During his speech to delegates on April 5 at the First District Republicans' endorsing convention in Albert Lea, Miller recounted a story about his then-8-year-old daughter coming home upset because her teacher had taught evolution in school and she does not believe in that. He said his daughter told him the teacher said he did not believe in it either, but he had to teach it. A Mankato Free Press story included the story along with a quote from Miller that, "We should decide what is taught in our schools, not Washington, D.C."

Mother Jones soon picked up the story, writing an article with the headline "This GOP House candidate is running for office so his daughter won't have to learn about evolution." The Minnesota DFL also pounced on Miller's comments in news releases that criticizing the candidate for "making embarrassing national headlines for his desire to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools."

In a recent interview, Miller said those depictions of his comments were totally inaccurate. He said the point of his story was that it should be up to local communities to determine what is taught in schools.

"I believe that there should be more local control over school districts and less federal and state control over local schools," he said. "Obviously I wasn't advocating for what is taught in the schools. It is a complete fabrication and distortion of what was actually said."

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Miller added that he personally believes in evolution with divine intervention. The Byron Army veteran notes he has spent the past 15 years working in the biotechnology industry.

"Of course I believe in evolution. I've been in the medical industry for many years," he said.

Miller beat out state Rochester Rep. Mike Benson and Blue Earth businessman Jim Hagedorn to win the party's endorsement. He will take on four-term DFL First District Rep. Tim Walz in November.

In Minnesota, the science curriculum standards are established at the state level, not the federal level, according to Josh Collins, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Education. The commissioner convenes a committee of 20 to 50 people to review and revise the standards.

After a year of work, a draft of the recommended changes are reviewed by teachers and the public via town hall meetings held across the state. They are also reviewed by national experts. The feedback from the public and expert input are incorporated into the final draft of standards. Once the commissioner approves the final draft, the standards go through an 11- to 15-month rulemaking process. Minnesota's 2009 science standards were based on standards documents published by the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin said Miller is trying to go back and play semantics with what he actually said.

"These politicians get caught saying something stupid like that and they try to go back and parse their words," he said. "It's fine if he's had a change of heard and changed his position, but this is what he said to get his endorsement."

As for Miller, he said the DFL is just trying to deflect attention from the real issues.

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"The bottom line is we would love to have an open, honest discussion with the folks of southern Minnesota about the issues," he said. "I think it's more important to talk about wasteful spending and the ever-growing size of government versus these little distractions."

Related Topics: JIM HAGEDORN
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