ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Short on time and in need of mountains of money, war veteran Pete Hegseth opened a GOP campaign Thursday to unseat Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar in a race that’s low on the radar of national Republicans.

His entrance comes about 2½ months before Republicans settle on a candidate at their state convention, leaving him little time to amass support from party insiders and raise the millions it would take to topple Klobuchar come November.

Hegseth, an Army National Guard captain recently back from a deployment to Afghanistan, didn’t flinch at the challenge he faces in his first try for public office.

“Nothing worth doing is easy. And nothing in life has perfect timing,” Hegseth said.

At 31, Hegseth is a year older than the minimal constitutional requirement for Senate eligibility. But he said neither age nor prior political service should matter.

“A lot of Minnesotans are kind of sick of the folks that have run for office their entire life and have been career politicians and have spent their entire life maneuvering themselves to higher office,” he said at a state Capitol news conference.

Hegseth has a tiny operation for now, but his inner circle includes two campaign operatives who helped Republican Chip Cravaack upset Democratic stalwart Jim Oberstar in a 2010 congressional race. Cravaack was massively outspent and given little chance.

Klobuchar has a multimillion-dollar campaign stockpile and a sturdy approval rating. And though the GOP race shrunk this week, Hegseth must run against former state Rep. Dan Severson, an Air Force veteran touting his own military past.

“There’s the initial ‘wow’ effect. Some of the things he’s got are admirable,” Severson said of Hegseth. “But in the long run, I think the delegates will go for the whole record of experience and proven conservative principles, which I believe my background is.”

Severson has been courting potential GOP convention delegates since last spring and was the party’s nominee for secretary of state in 2010.

Hegseth, a native of suburban Forest Lake, was sent abroad three times with the Guard. He was part of a security platoon at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, was an infantryman in Iraq and did counterinsurgency instruction in Afghanistan. He returned to Minnesota a couple of weeks ago.

Between his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Hegseth served in a $110,000-a-year role as executive director of Vets for Freedom, a national group that advocated for President George W. Bush’s Iraq surge.

At Thursday’s news conference, he weighed in on recent U.S. apology after copies of the Quran were burned on a military base in Afghanistan. Since the burning, there have been retaliatory killings of U.S. soldiers and strong criticism over the apology by Republican presidential candidates.

Hegseth said he didn’t believe an apology was necessary but wouldn’t second-guess decisions made by commanders on the ground.

“They’re looking out for the best interest of the troops in harm’s way. They understand the sensitivity within Islam of the Quran and how important it is,” he said.

Severson took a harder line, echoing the criticism.

“It undermines our morale. It undermines our ability to do the job,” he said. “It’s war. This is not a political platform or a political agenda.”

Former state GOP chairman Ron Carey, who is so far neutral, said Hegseth’s national connections present opportunities in a race that the national party has shown no indications of investing heavily in.

“It’s an uphill battle raising money to take on Senator Klobuchar when she is perceived to be a strong incumbent,” Carey said. “Someone like Pete might open up cash from sources the current candidates haven’t been able to tap into.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (19)
  1. Hank Rearden says:

    What is Sen Klobuchar doing about our $ 17 trillion deb? Citizens should read about austerity programs in Greece. Klobuchar is just a tax and spend liberal.

    1. jimmy says:

      What has the Teapublicans done about the 17 trillion in debt. Do not all spending bills start in the House

      1. Scott says:

        Yes it does Jimmy, but when those laws were voted on the Democratic party dominated the house and senate. It was the American people who voted a majority out of office, as they will finish the job this November. I will pledge 2000 dollars to Pete Hegseth today.

        1. Kevin says:

          2 grand wasted, loser.

        2. Orrest says:

          I think you lie like a rug.

  2. Tom says:

    @ Hank

    Yes us liberals like to tax and spend while the conservatives like to borrow and spend. And which one puts someone in debt? I believe borrowing does!

    1. Dale Gribble's wiser Momma says:

      Hush – tho shalt not speak the facts here. Shame on you

  3. G Dog says:

    The LAST thing we need is another “dig in the heels, never compromise Republican” in Congress. Democracy is about discourse and compromise – not throwing dirt, assigning blame and ignoring real solutions.

    Amy K has been a damn good senator and deserves another 6 years.

  4. Kevin says:

    Hogseth is just another filthy republican pig.

    1. Swamp Fox says:

      What are Kevin? Mother Theresa? I may not be in agreement with his election bid or his politics but he gets my attention for he is being forthright and purposeful for his monumental task at hand.

      He should be running for a state legislative office where he can get his proverbial political feet and really earn his recognizable public chops. He is halfway there because he is a veteran but he needs more seasoning and experience in Minnesota politics before he tackles the bigs in DC.

      This veteran is listening to what he has to say. Good Luck, brother!

    2. just sayin says:

      I have lost all respect for you Kevin. Just as everyone else on this board.
      You really are an idiot.

      1. Kevin says:

        Why would you even have had any respect for Kevin to begin with?

  5. Hank Rearden says:

    Federal spending was $2.2 trlillion in 2002. Now is spending is $3.8 trillion. 0bama dithers. Vote for fiscal responsibility.

    1. Orrest says:

      How much for the war e fort that was not on the books for that 2.2 trillion?

      1. Hal says:

        Per Reuters and other web sources the cost of the Iraq and Afgan wars are put at 4.5 trillion dollars. Not figured into that cost is the human cost of care of the was injured plus the future cost of medical care for all of the vets that will be service connected.
        If you figure the cost of the Bush tax cuts (spending by reducing revenue) Bush far outspends Obama 1.8 trillion to 1.4

    2. Dale Gribble's wiser Momma says:

      How does Obama or any administration get held accountable for the IOU’s under GWB’s watch????
      Just asking …. since only the blind would make such a dumb comment Hank. 😉

      I voted McCain but the fact is it didn’t matter.
      Indeed it is tax and spend or borrow and spend. Which is better long term for the next generation? Of course – neither is. So blame you idiots blame. Blame your own parties.
      Cheers and may we soon join Greece at the Doors of Reckoning.

  6. Dale Gribble's wiser Momma says:

    My pitiful baby boy once again has drool dripping off his chin and bs spewing from his mouth.
    People – believe me we trued to create a normal child and not this pathetic little weasel we have. He just started having sex with the chimps to early in life, became infected with AIDS and now is completey insane.
    At this point in time we reluctantly shall begin committment proceeding.

  7. barrister says:

    What does Hegseths experience in Afghanistan have to do with anything
    Has no political experience! Senator Klobuchar will kick him to the curb!

  8. ralph says:

    He will be a good little Republican and follow orders. No real world experience. No experience in what the world is about other than toting a gun.

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