FOREST LAKE, Minn. -- Rep. Michele Bachmann told reporters Thursday she expects her bid for a fourth term to be tougher than previous races in Minnesota's Congressional District.
"It's always hard in a presidential year, and there's always a lot of competition," Rep. Bachmann toldreporters after a stop at a cafe in Forest Lake.
"Super PACs are weighing in, political parties are weighing in, and the candidates are weighing in, so I don't take anything for granted. I'm working extremely hard to earn people's vote this fall."
Forest Lake is the nowlargest city in the eastern end of the district, after new boundary lines put the Bachmann strongholds of Woodbury and Stillwater in the Fourth District.
But the Tea Party favorite said the district is still favorable to conservative Republican candidates like herself.
"But we picked up a lot of Carver County, so it's a still a great district," Bachmann said. "I'm I've been associated with this district for 44 years of my life."
Anchoring the western side of the district is St. Cloud, home town to her Democratic opponent Jim Graves. The successful hotel developer and operator is making his first run for elective office.
"I've had a wonderful life, and I've been very successful because of this great country and this community that I came from," Graves told KARE Thursday.
"I want to give back now, and I think we can do much better."
He took Bachmann to task for time she spent away from thedistrict, especially during her unsuccessful 2011 run for the White House.
"She hasn't been on the floor in Congress, and she hasn't been here in the district. She just hasn't been present," Graves remarked.
"This is a full-time job. This is a service job. You have to remember you go to Congress to serve."
Bachmann asserted that her presidential campaign actually helped her home district, because she used to national spotlight to make the case for repealing health care reform.
"And in the midst of running for president I was able to bring about securing the Stillwater bridge," Bachmann said.
The new bridge over the St. Croix south of downtown Stillwater was backed by several members of theMinnesota and Wisconsin congressional delegations, as well as the governors of both states. But it was considered significant when Bachmann joined forces with Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, to push for the new bridge.
Bachmann and Graves will debate at least three times, and at least one time with a live audience, in the final week before the election. Graves said he has invited Bachmann to debate him prior to that, but so far to no avail.