Former president speaks at Coleman campaign fund-raiser

Robyn Repya

Former President George H.W. Bush voiced his support for St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman’s Senate bid at the RiverCentre in the capitol city’s downtown Sunday evening.

Coleman’s office organized the event to raise money for his 2002 Senate run.

All media were excluded from seeing or hearing the event at the request of the former president.

Colin Sheehan, Coleman’s deputy campaign manager, said only contributors and volunteers were allowed into the reception.

Coleman said he understood why Bush did not want to include the media.

“These are very trying times for public officials,” Coleman said.

Although the former president’s appearance at the fund-raiser was low-profile, Coleman said he was happy to have Bush’s support in the run for the Senate.

“He’s a hero,” Coleman said. “To have him here is very humbling.”

Coleman said the former president decided to exclude the media from the event also because of concern for his son, President George W. Bush.

Coleman said the former president said he felt he shouldn’t open himself up to media questions because his son is the commander in chief and the country is at war.

Tim Pawlenty, state House majority leader, attended the event and said the former president’s exclusion of the media was understandable.

“He’s been a target for terrorist attacks,” he said.

Pawlenty said that as a public official the senior Bush has the discretion to set the rules.

Donovan McCain, also in attendance, said many attendees weren’t aware the media was being excluded from the event.

McCain said, however, denying media access is typical of political fund-raisers.

He said he was excited to see the former president most of all.

“He’s kind of like a rock star for us old guys,” he said.

Robyn Repya welcomes comments at [email protected]