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Newly sworn-in Minn. senator says Democrats willing to work 'in good faith' with Trump

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith delivers the weekly Democratic address, released on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. She mostly responded to things President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union Speech a few days earlier. Photo taken from Senate Democdratic video1 / 2
Tina Smith talks to reporters on Dec. 13, 2017, the day she was appointed to the U.S. Senate. She took office Jan. 3 and a month later delivered the Democreatic Party's weekly address. Don Davis / Forum News Service2 / 2

ST. PAUL—U.S. Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota delivered the national Democratic weekly address one day short of a month in office.

The senator Gov. Mark Dayton appointed to replace Al Franken in Washington said in the video released Friday, Feb. 2, that she is open to working with Republicans. At the same time, she was critical of them.

"I do not see eye to eye with President (Donald) Trump and Republicans in Congress on many issues," she said at the beginning of her three-minute talk. "But I firmly believe that people don't send their elected representatives to Washington just to squabble; they send us here to get things done. So where we are able to identify areas of common ground, and where the president is willing to work in good faith, I and many of my colleagues stand ready to work with him."

She began with an issue where she said was agreement: "skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs."

Sitting in front of doors that appeared to show the U.S. Capitol in the background, and an American flag and books behind her, she noted that Trump talked about medicine costs in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, and that Democrats have introduced proposals to push the prices down.

"Republicans have refused to put patients before profits," she said. "They need to work with us in order to tackle this issue."

She also said she might support Trump's plan to spend $1.5 trillion on infrastructure, such things as roads, schools and hospitals. "If the president commits to making a serious investment from the federal government, he'll have a partner in me and many of my Democratic colleagues. But if the plan that President Trump and Republicans in Congress unveil is little more than a giveaway to giant companies that stand to make huge profits, you can count us out."

Smith said that Trump talks a good game, but usually does not back up that with action. And, she said, he usually has left Democrats out of discussions.

"Mr. President," Smith said, "Democrats stand ready to work with you. But if you are unwilling to work with us in good faith, know that we won't back down from a fight."

Smith may get other high-profile gigs as Democrats try to hold onto the Minnesota Senate seat. State Sen. Karin Housley of St. Mary's Point is the only Republican challenger so far in the 2018 election..

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.