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Minn. autism advocate criticizes GOP's Cravaack

Associated Press Modified: October 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm •  Published: October 29, 2012
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — An autism advocate accused Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack on Monday of revealing his son's autism to get sympathy as he faces questions about his Minnesota ties in a tight congressional race.

Wayne Rohde of the Autism Advocacy Coalition of Minnesota said Cravaack has done little in Washington regarding autism issues. Rohde said Cravaack hasn't joined a bipartisan congressional autism caucus or been active in supporting a federal push for insurance coverage of autism treatments.

"I truly believe it was used to try to gain sympathy and deflect any questions about his residency issue," he said.

The first-term incumbent disclosed his son's condition last week after Democratic challenger Rick Nolan began running a TV ad claiming Cravaack doesn't live in Minnesota. Cravaack said his wife and children moved to New Hampshire so his autistic son would have more time with his mother, who works in the Boston area. Cravaack lives in North Branch, in the southern part of the 8th District.

Rohde, who lives outside the 8th District in Woodbury, described himself as a Republican who isn't politically active. He contacted both campaigns Saturday and heard back from Nolan campaign manager Mike Misterek, who Rohde said asked if he would be willing to release his story to the media.

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