Coleman, Franken in dispute over MoveOn.org adby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
Republican Sen. Norm Coleman has taken out a full-page ad in the Star Tribune newspaper, criticizing Democrat Al Franken. The ad calls on Franken to speak out against the group MoveOn.org.
Minneapolis — Coleman's ad features a photo of Franken pointing underneath the word "ridiculous." The ad says Franken used the word when asked about a Senate vote that condemned MoveOn.org's ad criticizing Army Gen. David Petraeus, the leading military commander in Iraq.
Coleman's ad says what's really ridiculous is that Franken raised money for MoveOn.org. That organization ran an ad with the headline "General Petraeus or General Betray Us? Cooking the books for the White House" on the same day that Petraeus gave his progress report to Congress.
The Senate voted last week 72-to-25 to condemn the MoveOn.org ad. Coleman said he's running his ad so the public knows where Franken stands.
"You've got to choose whether you're going to stand with bipartisan coalitions or simply be beholden to MoveOn.org," Coleman said. "He's made a choice and I thought it was important for the rest of Minnesota to understand that that's the choice he's made."
Coleman's ad appears to be a national strategy by Republicans attempting to link the liberal group MoveOn.org with Democrats in control of Congress. The National Republican Senatorial Committee also sent out an e-mail highlighting that MoveOn.org raised $2.6 million on behalf of Democrats running for the Senate in 2006.
During a conference call with reporters last week, Coleman called on Franken and another DFLer in the race, Mike Ciresi, to denounce the MoveOn.org ad. Coleman's ad in the Star Tribune doesn't mention Ciresi.
When asked if he considers Franken his likely opponent, Coleman said "the other side will figure out in the end who the other candidate is. He clearly raised the money and he's clearly out there getting the Hollywood dollars and the national money."
So far this year, Franken has raised a total of $3.2 million, compared to Coleman's $3.9 million.
Coleman's criticism comes just two months after Franken ran a full-page ad linking Coleman to President Bush's Iraq policy. Franken's ad featured Coleman and President Bush standing arm in arm.
At an event at a Minneapolis hotel on Tuesday, Franken said the Senate should focus on getting American troops out of Iraq responsibly. He said Coleman was trying to change the subject by running the ad.
"Coleman won't vote to get the troops out," Franken said. "Coleman doesn't know what he wants to do. He's a windsock and he sees that people want the troops out, but he can't get himself to vote that way. So this is done to change the subject."
Franken stood by his criticism of the Senate vote to condemn the MoveOn.org ad, calling it "a distraction." He also said it was ridiculous for Coleman to take out a full-page ad on the issue. After the event, Franken refused to denounce the "General Betray Us" ad.
"No, I don't want to do that. I don't want to play that game," Franken said.
A spokesman for Franken says Franken has done some organizing events for MoveOn.org. For his part, Coleman said there will be plenty of debate on Iraq in the coming months and insists the ad is not an effort to change the subject.
- All Things Considered, 09/25/2007, 5:24 p.m.