By Devin Henry
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama encouraged those who watched his national address about the debt ceiling last night to contact their members of Congress and encourage them to support his “balanced approach” to raising the debt ceiling.
Minnesotans seem to be answering that call.
Several congressional offices reported receiving significantly more messages from constituents since the president’s address last night. One office — Chip Cravaack’s — has received as many communications on Monday and Tuesday — more than 800 — as they generally get over the course of a normal business week.
Rep. Betty McCollum
As of mid-morning, Betty McCollum’s office had received more than 200 emails since the speech, the majority of which are first-time writers, a spokeswoman said. Al Franken’s office has gotten “several hundred more calls and emails than normal” according to a spokesman. Congressman Keith Ellison's Washington office has gotten about three times as many calls as on an average day, and there have been more walk-ins than normal at his Minneapolis office, a spokeswoman said. Michele Bachmann’s congressional website has been intermittently unavailable due to extremely high traffic.
Spokesmen for Republicans Erik Paulsen and John Kline said their offices are getting more calls than normal today, but both said they received even more messages during the lead-up to the vote on Obama’s health care reform bill (now law) in March 2010.
Update: An official said that as of 2 p.m., Amy Klobuchar's office had received nearly 700 calls and 1,200 emails since Obama's speech.
As for what the callers are saying, that seems to be up to interpretation.
Press secretaries for Democrats Franken and McCollum reported vast support for Obama’s debt limit plan, which blends spending cuts and tax increases on high earners as a means for reducing the federal deficit. A Bachmann spokeswoman said most callers “are clearly saying that it’s time to get Washington’s spending binge under control,” and Bachmann, a Republican, will do that by voting against any increase to the debt limit. A Cravaack spokesman said most callers think there will have to be a compromise between the two sides.