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Obama comments upset GOP farmers

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ST. PAUL - A comment Barack Obama made to Time Magazine has upset Republican farmers, who use it as proof he does not understand agriculture.

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The Democratic presidential candidate referred to a college professor who often opposes ethanol in the interview, saying agriculture is "partly responsible for the explosion in our health care costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in health care costs."

Obama's campaign later backed away from the statement, saying he only was paraphrasing the professor's New York Times article. But that did not silence GOP farm-state leaders.

"It is ludicrous to blame farmers for obesity and pollution," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters during a Friday conference call. "I think he really doesn't understand agriculture."

Obama's Minnesota spokesman said the Democrat supports farmers.

"No desperate 11th-hour attacks change the fact that there is only one candidate in the race who is 100 percent supportive of Minnesota farmers, and that is Barack Obama," Nick Kimball said. "John McCain has said himself he'd veto the Farm Bill in a 'New York minute' and he has opposed the vital agriculture safety net which has helped create many jobs in Minnesota."

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