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Public Statements - Sen. Norm Coleman Says He Is Not Ready to Carve His Name into His Senate Desk Quite Yet

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Location: Unknown - Sen. Norm Coleman Says He Is Not Ready to Carve His Name into His Senate Desk Quite Yet

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter

U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman doesn't want to carve his name into his Senate desk just yet.

Coleman, entering the final days of a tight U.S. Senate race, told supporters Sunday (Oct. 19) in Andover of the tradition for departing senators to carve their names into their desks — his desk bears the name of Harry Truman.

"It tells you of the enormous responsibility and seriousness of what you're doing," he said of the carved signature.

Coleman, 59, is the former mayor of St. Paul — his first run for statewide office in 1998 failed when Jesse Ventura grab the Governor's Office.

vestman.jpgFour years later Coleman ran for U.S Senate against Sen. Paul Wellstone and won — the election marred by the death of his Democratic opponent in a plane crash. Coleman actually defeated Walter Mondale in the final election.

In the Senate Coleman has served on a number of committees — Agriculture, Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Foreign Relations.

Less than two weeks remain in a very tight senatorial race with Sen. Norm Coleman pushing for re-election.

Democratic opponent Al Franken has charged that Coleman ignored Iraq War contracting abuses as chairman of a Senate investigative committee — a charge Coleman emphatically rejects.

"So was oversight perfect — no. It's the war," said Coleman, explaining one effort to send investigators into Iraq left them stranded at the airport, unable to move into the war zone, speaking to the ECM Editorial Board on Oct. 3.

Toughest vote he has taken

Coleman called the recent vote on the $700 billion financial services bail out bill "as tough of a vote as I've ever taken."

These are uncharted economic waters, said Coleman.

"If we follow some basic fundamental principles, we'll stand in better shape," he said.

Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley would have voted for the bill.

Franken called it "kind of everything that's wrong in Washington" and would not have voted for the bill.

On other issues, Coleman supports the renewal of the Bush tax cuts.

"So I think those tax cuts were extremely positive," said Coleman, adding they alone couldn't sustain the economy during the current economic "perfect storm."

On the Iraq War, Coleman does not favor a specific timetable for U.S. forces to leave Iraq. "I think we're on a clear path to withdrawal," said Coleman. "We're on a path where — and I've been pushing this strongly — (for Iraqis) to take greater responsibility for their own reconstruction," he said.

Victory in Iraq, opined Coleman, is a stable Iraqi government capable of standing on its own.

Serving on the foreign relations committee and other Senate committees, Coleman argues, has provided him with a strong background.

Background, experience, knowledge

"The difference I bring between me and anybody in this race that I have the background, experience, knowledge to deal with some very complex matters in foreign policy," he said.

Asked if he could support a U.S. military incursion into Pakistan, Coleman explained that it's important to work with the Pakistani government as fully as possible.

But if there were some critical situation — Osama bin Laden in sight, American troops in jeopardy — he could support troops crossing the border, he explained.

On health care Coleman details a market-based approach.

He speaks of health care coverage portability, the creation of state health care exchanges, of an independent health care review board, of tax credits, of supporting tort reform. "We practice a lot of defensive medicine in this country today," said Coleman.

Coleman emphasis the need for preventative health care.

The dollars for reforming the health care system are already in it, he argues.

"David Durenberger would tell you, it's not about putting more money in the system — we have a lot of money in the system," said Coleman of the former U.S. Senator and health care expert.

Legitimate uses for earmarks

On the issue of congressional earmarks — crafting a bill so certain funding can only be used one way — Coleman believes that earmarks have legitimate uses. "I think transparency is the Great Disinfectant," he said of earmarks.

On energy Coleman proposes the creation of a National Energy Infrastructure Trust Fund to expand energy infrastructure — wind transmission lines, nuclear energy, others.

He proposes to tap into federal revenue from outer continental shelf oil and gas development — federal lease revenue in 2007 alone was about $7 billion, according to his campaign.

Coleman looks to balancing the federal budget within five years — in Andover he spoke of the need for a presidential line-item veto.

He heralds freezing congressional pay, enforcing pay-as-you-go federal budgeting, shutting tax loopholes and going after unpaid taxes.

On immigration, Coleman does not support amnesty or any automatic path to citizenship, according to his campaign.

But he believes that as long as illegal immigrants are sponsored by an employer, obey the law, pay a fine and back taxes, they should be able to remain for a period to time.

Sen. Norm Coleman shakes hands with a male campaign friend and visits with a youngster and mom at an Andover campaign stop.

But to become citizens they must leave the country and apply for legal citizenship like anyone else, his campaign detailed.

Insure that borders are safe

"What we have to do is we have to insure our borders are secure and we have to communicate that to people," said Coleman.

"But we've doing that much better," he said.

Coleman said he does not support "sanctuary cities" where law enforcement is prohibited from asking certain questions about immigration status.

Coleman has been criticized for his Washington housing, whether he buys his own suits, his investigative subcommittee work, his support of President Bush's policies, his level of corporate and special interest campaign funding.

But Coleman was upbeat in the parking lot outside of the State of Bean Coffee House in Andover on Sunday. "I think it's going to come to folks looking and saying, ‘Who can fix this,'" he said of the country's problems.

"They're (the public) really concerned," he said of the public. "If people look at where we've been and what we've done, I think folks will make the right choice," he said of voters supporting him.

Coleman and his wife Laurie live in St. Paul and have two children, Jacob, 22, and Sarah, 18.

Coleman grew up in a large Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York.

As a young man he attended the Woodstock music festival and was a roadie for a rock band.

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