DULUTH, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- In the midst of a national debate on how to build the Keystone XL Pipeline, Democrats are painting Mike McFadden as out of touch with the Iron Range constituency.
As reported by MPR, McFadden told reporters he would not support requiring American–made steel to be used in building the Keystone XL Pipeline if it is approved.
"It was a really stupid thing for him to say and of course he is going to have to answer for that," DFL Chairman Ken Martin said. "The fact that he would advocate for importing Chinese steel shows how out of touch he is with not only the Iron Range, but this whole region."
The McFadden campaign slapped back, claiming Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) voted against the Keystone XL Pipeline four different times.
"I want to get the Keystone Pipeline approved," McFadden said. "Senator Franken repeatedly has been against the pipeline. It's an opportunity to get this country energy independent."
The McFadden Campaign also says Sen. Franken supported a 2012 amendment that would not prevent the Keystone XL pipeline from being built with non–U.S. Steel.
"Sen. Franken has voted to allow the project to be built without U.S. materials if the requirement of U.S. steel is too expensive," a statement from the McFadden campaign added.
Meanwhile, Iron Range Democrats say they will use McFadden's comments against him in the fall campaign.
"I think we saw a pretty clear message from him that if it was cheaper there ( in China) that they would purchase it there and that is a big issue for people up here," said DFL State Representative Jason Metsa.
"In fact, I would love it to be built with copper from Minnesota. I would like to get that Polymet mine open," McFadden said on WCCO Sunday Morning.
McFadden said Democrats are using his comments as political spin.
"What I said was I will not support any sort of steel subsidized by foreign government and once again I think the Democrats have tried to re-frame this issue," McFadden told WCCO's Esme Murphy.
On Friday, State Representatives Jason Metsa and Carly Melin will hold a news conference to respond to McFadden's comments on using foreign steel for pipeline projects.