"Our Best Days are Yet to Come."
- Senator Norm Coleman
I had originally planned to exclusively talk about the economy and the financial crisis, which I still intend to address. But, these are fearful anxious times - and people are looking for hope and confidence and leadership.
So, today, I want to talk about hope and confidence and real concerns people have about the future and about other things that I know many of you are here to discuss.
One of the many advantages of my Jewish faith is the ancient calendar we keep that calls for certain beneficial spiritual activities throughout the year.
One such event is Yom Kippur which just concluded last night at sundown, a time of fasting, soul searching and refocusing of your life. It was for me a very necessary day to stop and contemplate and make a couple of decisions I want share with the people of Minnesota this morning.
The first is an announcement that as of today I am suspending all negative campaign ads and am calling on those who support me to do the same.
Legally I can't control ads from independent groups.
I wish I could, if I could they would all be positive.
All I can control is those ads where I say "I'm Norm Coleman and I approve this message."
I'm doing this for two reasons
First of all, this is a terrible time for so many people with the financial crisis - with real concerns and fear about people's jobs - about their life savings - and their children's future and education -- when we are all bombarded with negative messages of real consequence.
At times like this, politics should not add to negativity - it should lift people up with hope and a confident vision for the future.
And second, I decided that I was not all that interested in returning to Washington for six years based on the judgment of voters that I was not as bad as the other two guys. I want folks to vote for me, not against the other guys.
I will continue to campaign in a way that shows the contrast between myself and the others in experience, judgment and temperament. But I will stress my positive record, of which I am very proud, as the main reason folks should support me.
I have directed my campaign this morning to begin the process of immediately pulling any negative ad that I am personally responsible for approving- I am also issuing a press release today calling on those who chose to weigh in on this race to honor my call for only positive ads.
The fact is, there may be ads in the pipeline- fundraising letters- direct mailYouTube or Web videos or other campaign messages that will filter out into the public over the next several days.
I raise this because I want to avoid being caught up on a technicality while the good faith effort is being made to pull these ads down.
At a time when we need unity, people want hope and that's what I have offered and acted upon my entire life in public service.
As many people know, my theme when I was running for election as Mayor of Saint Paul was that Saint Paul's best days are yet to come. My mantra was hope plus confidence yields investment.
And, I was right.
Today, people need hope and a more positive campaign is a start.
It's a rule of thumb on both sides of the political aisle that negative ads work. I'm wiling to put that theory to a test and trust the higher standards of the people of Minnesota.
Like the vote I took last week on the Financial Stabilization Plan, if this move costs me an election I can live with that.
My second decision was to make an appeal to basic fairness and respect when it comes to coverage of our personal lives.
Over the last several days I have received a fresh batch of questions from reporters, fueled by blogs, about personal issues concerning my finances, my family and my wife.
I guess I was a little naive last week. I thought news organizations would not publish a story based on a political blog without substantiation, so I didn't think I personally needed to respond to baseless and sensationalized claims. Our thought was that responding would make a story out of a non-story. Today there is obviously a different standard. Refusing to respond to a baseless unsubstantiated claim that appears on a blog becomes a story. I guess I learned a lesson.
We all learn from different sources, like the tidbit I picked up from Michael Scott from The Office who said "Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information." That's the world we live in
So today my response will be specific and complete.
While I have answered honestly the question about suits and jobs - I will say as clearly as I can.
Nobody except my wife or me bought my suits.
If my friends have shared gifts with me and my family - or I have shared gifts with them - if they rose to the level of having to be reported - they were reported.
As many know, Senate Ethics Rules are extensive - and tough and spell out exactly what must be disclosed. Lobbyists can't give you gifts - long-time friends can share gifts that friends share. I have friends - like many of you here today have friends - and if my friends ever gave me a gift that was required to have been reported - it was reported.
I have heard and answered many of these questions before and given my answers, but I will do it again - and for the last time.
Throughout my public career I have tried to be as transparent and forthcoming as I could and maintain a minimum degree of privacy in my family's private life.
I have, in good faith, reported everything I was required to and then some.
My official life is an open book for anyone to read, in my financial disclosures, my FEC reports and my official websites which lists all my trips and earmarks.
I'm okay with you asking me these questions - but I am also intent on saying that when they've been answered, they've been answered.
Families and personal issues are out of bounds and must stay that way. And, from this Senator and father and husband - they are off bounds - and out of bounds.
In recent days, outrageous questions and insinuations have been lodged against my wife about her employment. My wife's job has been disclosed as required under the ethics laws of the United States Senate. My wife is a certified and licensed insurance agent - she works for a living - and her employer is pleased with her work - and she is pleased with her job.
And that's all anybody is entitled to know.
Questions about my wife - about my children - about their private lives, jobs, work and school - are just that - private. And, they will remain that way.
Al Franken's family - Dean Barkley's family - Norm Coleman's family - are off limits.
Barack Obama was right - families should not be targets of attack in political campaigns. And, I won't let my family be the target of anyone's attack - nor will I cross that line where you feel that you have a right to come across that line. Because you do not.
I will, once more, gladly respond to your questionsand then we must get back on track with a positive campaign about the issues of the day.
You may not like my answers - and you may feel you are entitled to something more - but, I am entitled to my privacy in my private life - and I am entitled to have my public life treated honestly and fairly - and I will insist on both.
In the remaining days I hope we can not only engage the people of Minnesota in the debate but inspire them with confidence that we can overcome the negative tenor of these times and move Minnesota and the nation forward.
That's my plan going forward and I hope others will choose the same path.