Candidates set furious pace on last campaign dayby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio,
Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — With less than 24 hours to go before the polls open, Minnesota's U.S. Senate candidates are making their final pitches to voters.
Republican Sen. Norm Coleman campaigned in southeastern Minnesota this morning. He spoke about core Republican principles during a campaign stop in Rochester.
"If you care about the 2nd Amendment, this race is really important. If you think every child is a gift from God, this race is really important," said Coleman. "If you care about small businessmen and women, and want to give them a chance to reach the American dream and make it happen, this race is really important."
Coleman will also make a campaign appearance with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in St. Paul this afternoon.
Coleman will also run a rare two-minute TV ad this evening to make his final case to voters.
Democrat Al Franken is campaigning in Rochester, Minneapolis and Duluth -- where New York Sen. Hillary Clinton will campaign with him.
Franken greeted volunteers at his St. Paul campaign headquarters this morning, and thanked them for their work in the final days of the campaign.
Franken said his message to presidential candidate Barack Obama's supporters is that Obama will need 60 Democrats in the Senate to accomplish his agenda.
"We need a real change in Washington, and I believe a President Obama is going to make that change," said Franken. "He's going to need a working majority in the Senate, and he's going to need someone who's going to agree with his values."
Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley has only a few low-key events planned for the final hours of the campaign. He spoke at a "get out the vote" rally at Horace Mann Elementary School in St. Paul this morning.
"I'd rather be meeting with fifth and sixth graders here in St. Paul than Hillary and - who's the other guy? - Giuliani, the New York bosses coming in to help my New York opponents," said Barkley. "Can't they find someone from another state other than New York? I feel very confident. They've spent $40 million trying to close the deal. They haven't done it."
Barkley dismisses the idea that a vote for him would be wasted. He argues just the opposite -- that voting for Coleman or Franken would be a waste because it would result in more of the same.
Barkley plans to spend the afternoon talking to voters on the streets of downtown Minneapolis. He also has a handful of radio interviews planned throughout the day.
With the most recent polls showing a neck-and-neck race, Coleman and Franken kept up their barrage of TV ads.
The Texas civil lawsuit that emerged late in the campaign, accusing a Coleman backer of funneling money to an insurer that employs Coleman's wife, was a topic of last-minute ads from both campaigns.
After Coleman aired an ad over the weekend suggesting the Franken campaign was using the lawsuit to defame his wife, Franken responded with his own ad saying Coleman was making dishonest claims and had to answer allegations in the lawsuit.
The Senate race was far from Minnesota's only potboiler.
In the 6th District, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann was fighting hard to overcome a gaffe that threatened to cost her a second term.
Bachmann, who jump-started her opponent's campaign by remarking on TV that Barack Obama may have anti-American views, was visiting businesses in downtown Anoka and dropping in on GOP call centers in Blaine, Forest Lake and Woodbury.
Bachmann was also set to speak at a rally in St. Paul with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Her opponent, Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg, was to spend the day greeting commuters in Coon Rapids, stopping at a union hall in Blaine and rallying students in St. Cloud.
He and Bachmann are running in Minnesota's conservative 6th District, which takes in the northern fringe of the Twin Cities and stretches west past St. Cloud.
And in the 3rd District, which includes western Twin Cities suburbs, Democrat Ashwin Madia campaigned at an American Legion in Osseo with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, whose 2006 victory showed that the district is no longer safe GOP territory.
Republican Erik Paulsen planned to knock on doors in Minnetonka, Maple Grove and Long Lake with Rep. Jim Ramstad, the popular GOP incumbent whose retirement set off one of the nation's most competitive races in the state's 3rd District.
Paulsen, Madia and Independence Party candidate David Dillon are vying for the seat.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
- All Things Considered, 11/03/2008, 5:20 p.m.
Tom Scheck covers politics and government for MPR News.