Sen. Lincoln Denies Special Interest Allegations

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Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) faces the state's Lt. Gov. Bill Halter next month in a Democratic primary runoff election. Halter has charged that she is under the influence of special interests in Washington. Lincoln talks to Renee Montagne about the runoff election, and the negative comments Halter has made against her.


And right after that conversation with Bill Halter, we got Blanche Lincoln on the line.

Senator Lincoln, thank you very much for joining us.

Senator BLANCHE LINCOLN (Democrat, Arkansas): Thank you. Im delighted to be with you.

MONTAGNE: Now, we have just heard from Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter that this primary, in his opinion, was not about right or left. It's about, as he put it, middle-class families against D.C. special interests. And he puts you, and in his campaign he puts you squarely in the middle of those interests.

An example he gave was youve received hundreds of thousands of dollars from big oil and financial institutions. Is that accurate?

Sen. LINCOLN: Well, I think it's pretty ironical that he would even say that, when you realize that about $5 million, over the last 10 weeks, have been dumped in negative advertising against me - on his behalf - by one of the biggest special interests in the country, and thats the D.C. unions.

No, not at all, I think have a very wide variety of support. I feel good about the support from Arkansans, but also from the industry groups in Arkansas that are good job creators for us in Arkansas, whether it's agriculture - which is well over 25 percent of our economy - the timber industry, our manufacturing of energy-efficient appliances and motors. Things like that that I work very, very hard with those industries. And yes, they support me.

I think if people look at my record, that, quite frankly, I have stood up to some of the biggest special interests. Wall Street certainly doesnt like me. I've stood up to the health insurance industry in the health care bill that I supported and helped to write out of the Senate Finance Committee.

MONTAGNE: Although you may be up against something larger than what your accomplishments might be. We've heard voters there, say that they're just tired of Washington business as usual - they want a fresh face.

What do you say to those voters?

Sen. LINCOLN: Well, I can't say that, you know, Im going to change the way my face looks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. LINCOLN: But what I can say is that I've been a part of the solution in Washington, in trying to change what goes on in Washington. When I came to the House in 1992, I started the Civility Caucus, and also began work and was one of the original co-founders of the Blue Dogs, which was a fiscally responsible, very progressive group of Democrats. Progressive in the sense that we wanted to change the way that things were done in Washington.

And I think in the Senate, being one of the original members of the Senate to bring about the new Democrats and working with the centrists, to try to find common ground.

We haven't done things up here because youve got one extreme or the other who wants a hundred percent of everything that they want, as opposed to a willingness to come together and find common ground that moves us forward. And I feel like Im a part of that solution because I've definitely stood up to my own party in many ways, but I've also been willing stand up to the other side when they're wrong.

MONTAGNE: Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, thank you very for joining us.

Sen. LINCOLN: You bet, great to be with you.


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