State GOP endorses Coleman for re-electionby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio
Minnesota Republicans meeting in Rochester this afternoon endorsed U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman's bid for a second term. Coleman told delegates to the state GOP convention that the Republican Party needs to restore credibility with voters with a return to its fiscally conservative roots.
Rochester, Minn. — Coleman, unopposed within his party, won the GOP endorsement for a second term by unanimous proclamation.
"Thank you, dear friends, for the tremendous honor of your nomination," said Coleman. "I accept it with the challenge to each one of you. Let's be the party of people willing to take bold, adventurous risks, so we can pass a better world to our kids than we received from our parents."
Coleman used much of his convention speech to talk about the future. He drew enthusiastic applause when he called for the GOP to return to fiscal responsibility, in the hope future generations will not be saddled with debt from today's unnecessary spending.
"A Republican Party that can't do fiscal discipline and national security is in trouble," said Coleman. "As Republicans in Washington we cut taxes, but increased spending, and violated the fiscal discipline that's supposed to be our identity."
Coleman laid out what he called an eight-point plan for the future, which calls for making the Bush tax cuts permanent, cutting wasteful spending, and provider greater access to health care without going to a government-run system.
Coleman also called for border security and "peace through strength." And he promoted ending what he called the nation's addiction to foreign oil by increasing the use of coal and nuclear power.
Many delegates shouted "ANWR" as Coleman talked energy policy. They were angry references to Coleman's opposition to oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.
Coleman told Republican activists the change Democrats are calling for has a lot to do with raising taxes and government regulation.
"Our message to the DFL is -- keep your hands out of our pockets and keep your hand off our change," he said.
Coleman did not name DFL challenger Al Franken, but referred to him several times.
"Being a U.S. senator is not about being a celebrity, or slaying ideological dragons. As a senator, I'm in the customer service business. Ninety-five percent of what I do is to help people," said Coleman. "When the 35W bridge fell down, or the flood, people don't need an ideologue or a divider. They need someone who can work for them."
Barry Hicketheir is a GOP delegate from Minneapolis. Like many of the people at the convention, Hicketheir was wearing a red "Norm '08" campaign button. Hicketheir acknowledged many Republicans wish Coleman were more conservative.
"I like Norm. He's done a great job. There are a couple of things where some of the conservatives differ from him, like the ANWR vote and things like that. But all in all, he's a good, solid candidate and I'm looking forward to him serving again," said Hicketheir.
Republicans in other parts of the country have been running into problems in special elections. A recent Star Tribune Minnesota Poll found that just one in four Minnesotans approve of the way President Bush is handling his job.
Still, that poll gave Coleman a 7 percentage point lead over DFLer Al Franken, who's expected to win his party's endorsement to run against Coleman.
Carleton College political science professor Steven Schier says he thinks Coleman can thank the Franken campaign for his position in the polls.
"The big problem for Democrats in Minnesota right now are the problems that Al Franken has had with his own candidacy," said Schier.
This week 4th District DFL Rep. Betty McCollum raised concerns that having Franken on the November ballot could hurt other Democrats.
McCollum cited an eight-year-old sexually graphic article Franken wrote for Playboy magazine in expressing her concerns. Franken has also struggled with a series of tax problems.
Schier says it's all helped Coleman.
"In order for a challenger to defeat an incumbent, the challenger needs to make that race all about the bad aspects of the incumbent candidate," said Schier. "Over the last several weeks we've been seeing a bunch of embarrassing disclosures about Al Franken, the challenger. That has really taken the spotlight off of Norm Coleman and given Norm Coleman a big advantage."
Coleman will take his campaign from Rochester to stops in Willmar, Marshall and Little Falls on Saturday.
- All Things Considered, 05/30/2008, 5:20 p.m.