Independent - Coleman: Serious Leadership Needed
By Rae Kruger
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman spoke about taxes and health care with residents at the Marshall Area Senior Citizen Center on Monday.
When Republican Sen. Norm Coleman walked into the Marshall Area Senior Citizen Center on Monday morning, two members of Democratic challenger Al Franken's campaign wanted to make sure Coleman was reminded of the man Franken and the Democrats say Coleman has too close of ties to.
A Franken campaign employee in a passable George W. Bush mask wore a suit and paced outside the Senior Center as he waited for Coleman. Inside, Coleman supporters were somewhat curious about the sight, but weren't exactly sure who the mask represented.
Coleman, had seen the man in the mask before, and walked by him and straight in the Senior Center where he talked about having the necessary leadership and experience to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate.
"This is about serious leadership in challenging times," Coleman said.
Coleman outlined the most serious challenges to a group of supporters and later to media.
The economy is a challenge, Coleman said. "People are worried about jobs," Coleman said.
He knows something about jobs - as mayor of St. Paul, he created jobs, he said.
American people also want a stable federal government budget and not the billions Franken is proposing in new programs and new spending, Coleman said.
"...you don't raise taxes in tough economic times," Coleman said.
Health care is a crisis and "it's killing small businesses," Coleman said.
But, he told the audience, he doesn't want a government bureaucracy running a health care program.
People need affordable access to health care but not one run by the government, Coleman said.
Coleman said he's working with a bipartisan group on a universal health care plan that won't be ruined by bureaucracy. The U.S. also needs to continue to support renewable energy and other alternatives to foreign oil. That includes encouraging the use of nuclear power and drilling for oil in new areas in the U.S., Coleman said.
While the price of gas has decreased in the past few weeks, "we cannot let that drop in price end our resolve to end dependence on foreign oil," Coleman said.
And, Coleman believes, Gen. Petraeus has the best knowledge of a course of action in Iraq than do those who belong in the end the war movement called moveon.org, Coleman said.
Coleman's support of the war in Iraq is just one link to Bush, a comment sheet given to the media by Franken campaign employee Kelly Bjorklund said.
Coleman has supported the Bush administration in more than 90 percent of his votes, Bjorklund said.
Coleman has also voted against cost-of-living raises in Social Security, accepted large donations from pharmaceutical companies and continues to support Bush in the Iraq War, Bjorklund said.
The race between Coleman and Franken continues to be tight and Coleman stressed he needed the support from those in Marshall on Monday morning.
This year's election will have a "profound impact on the future of this state and the future of this country," Coleman said.
Minnesotans need to elect someone who can work across party lines and bring experience back to Washington, D.C., Coleman said
"If you give me the next two weeks of your life, I'll give you six years (in) the U.S. Senate and make you proud to be a Minnesotan and proud to be an American," Coleman said.
By then, the Democrat in the Bush mask had left. Coleman had some free time before leaving for Redwood Falls and he sat in on a cribbage game at the Senior Center.