Coleman urges College Republicans to rally behind Bush’s re-election bid

by Hank Long

During their year-end meeting Wednesday night at Coffman Union, the University College Republicans chanted a robust “Minnesota Rouser” with the help of a U.S. senator.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., spoke to more than 200 College Republicans from the University and students from six other colleges on issues including Iraq, terrorism and the state of the economy.

Coleman said his main purpose was to pump up the College Republicans for the upcoming campaign season.

“I am fired up and thrilled, and I am looking forward to working with you to re-elect George Bush,” Coleman said to the sea of Republicans in attendance at the invite-only event.

Third-year political science student and next year’s College Republicans Chairman Tony Zammit said the event was a great kickoff to the election season.

“We are the unpaid army of the Republican Party,” Zammit said. “We believe we can go out there and win this state, and we feel a lot of that will center around the University.”

Coleman said Bush’s re-election is crucial to winning the war on terrorism and leading Iraq to sovereignty.

“You don’t change horses in the middle of a stream,” Coleman said.

“(The terrorists) will not be pacified by anger management training,” he said. “The president understands that, and the American people understand that.”

The U.S. Senate is in recess, and for the last three days, Coleman has trekked the state, talking to crowds in Minnesota from Mankato to Duluth.

His schedule has been filled with events, and he has been flying all over the state, said Patrick Connolly, who works in Coleman’s St. Paul office.

“It’s been a busy recess,” he said.

His visit with the College Republicans was the senator’s third trip to the University in less than 12 hours.

In the morning, he announced an $8 million federal research grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. After his visit to the State Capitol in the early afternoon, where he met with the governor, Coleman returned to the University to talk at the Law School.

On Tuesday, Coleman visited Minnesota State-Mankato, Normandale College and the University of St. Thomas to participate in a listening session with students on financial aid issues.

Coleman said college affordability was the consensus issue with students he spoke with Tuesday.

“The biggest issue is Pell Grants,” Coleman said. “I think (students) get buried in loans, and we need to make sure they can afford to go to college.”

Coleman said he is the author of an amendment passed in the senate to increase the Pell Grant maximum from $4,050 to $4,500.

Coleman also said he heard many concerns from students about increasing tuition.

“There are a lot of concerns, but we haven’t got a consensus solution,” he said. “We are working on that.”

University junior Yoman Brunson said he came out to see exactly how Coleman feels on big issues such as the war against terrorism and the current U.S. role in Iraq.

“I know Bush supported Sen. Coleman during his campaign,” Brunson said. “It will be interesting to see how Coleman will back the president.”