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West Central Tribune - Coleman: West Central Minn.'s Support Is Key

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Location: Willmar, MN

Coleman: West Central Minn.'s Support Is Key

By Garret Felder, West Central Tribune

Sen. Norm Coleman made a final appearance in Willmar on Monday in a last effort to rally the support of rural voters before today's general election.

Addressing supporters at The Oaks at Eagle Creek, Coleman said "Minnesota's best days are yet to come" and he would be proud to lead the state toward that prosperity if re-elected.

Coleman entered the lounge of the Willmar golf course Monday evening to cheers of "Six more years," and "Here we go, Norm," while he exchanged high fives and handshakes with supporters.

Coleman said that six years "is a long time with good leadership. It's a really long time with poor leadership."

"But this is going to be your time," he said. "We're going to pass it over to you now."

Monday's visit to Willmar was Coleman's third in three weeks. He has spent the past month campaigning nearly non-stop across the state and finds himself almost deadlocked in a race with Democratic-endorsed candidate Al Franken.

The first-term senator said Willmar is an area of strength for his campaign.

"I think my edge in this race is a deep connection with these communities," Coleman said. "… I think I have such a decided edge and a deep understanding of the challenges here and hopes here. I've been a champion for this community. So I can maximize my support here."

According to Luke Friedrich, Coleman's campaign press secretary, the Republican senator made a stop in 10 major cities across the state Monday.

Coleman told his supporters in Willmar that anger and hostility have latched onto the campaign and the resulting partisan divide needs to be fixed after the election.

Some of that recent hostility formulated from a Texas lawsuit alleging a wealthy supporter funneled money to the senator through his wife's employer. According to previous Forum Communications reports, the lawsuit was filed, withdrawn and re-filed last week and alleges that $75,000 was transferred through Coleman's wife's employer to boost the senator's personal finances.

Coleman told the Tribune the hostility surrounding the race isn't replicated in the U.S. Senate. He said senators are striving to bridge the partisan gap.

"Here's the good news: there's some of us working on that," Coleman said, citing some support he received Monday from some Democratic senators. "We really do respect each other. … And there's a lot more of that going on that you don't see on C-SPAN."

Coleman said he will work at connecting the partisan divide because "America needs it."

"This is not about me, it really isn't," Coleman said. "… I've been blessed with the opportunity to serve. This is really about you."

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