First lady rallies Republicans; candidates stress future vision

Andrew Pritchard

First lady Laura Bush rallied more than 2,000 Republicans in Eagan on Saturday, promoting the party’s state and congressional candidates.

“These great candidates will make Minnesota proud,” she said.

She was joined on the stage by U.S. Senate candidate Norm Coleman, gubernatorial hopeful Tim Pawlenty and U.S. House candidates in Minnesota’s most hotly contested districts – incumbent Mark Kennedy from the new 6th District and John Kline from the new 2nd District.

Bush said Republicans should vote for these candidates in Tuesday’s elections.

“Everywhere I go, people ask me what they can do to help the president,” she said. “And there is something you can do: Elect Norm, Mark, John and Tim to work with him.”

Bush said Coleman earned the public’s confidence with hard work and results as St. Paul’s mayor from 1993-2001.

“He brought new energy to the city of St. Paul and with it a brand new hockey team,” she said.

Bush also said Kline’s service as a Marine would help him work with the president on national security issues, and she called Pawlenty a common-sense leader for promoting tax cuts.

“They’ll work with the president to make our nation stronger Ö so we can live in a world free from terror and fear,” she said.

Visions for the future

candidates and party officials said the upcoming election is important for the state’s and nation’s future.

“Minnesotans have the chance this year to vote for a bright future for Minnesota and all of America,” Kline said.

Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Ron Eibensteiner said the party will win Tuesday because it has great candidates, important issues on its side and many supporting voters.

“This election is about the future and not about the failed policies of the past,” he said.

Pawlenty took up a similar theme.

“Next Tuesday, we’re going to be at a crossroads for the people of Minnesota,” he said. “We’re going to choose between the ideas of the past and the ideas of the future.”

Those ideas, candidates said, include decreasing taxes, improving schools and creating a robust business economy.

Pawlenty also continued advocating the policy for which he was criticized by the three other major-party gubernatorial candidates at a debate Friday: putting immigrants’ visa statuses on their driver’s licenses.

“We’re in a war, and if you’re a temporary visitor here you shouldn’t have a four-year driver’s license after you’re in this country illegally,” he said.

Pawlenty pulled ahead of his opponents in a recent Star Tribune Minnesota Poll, but experts caution public opinion is unstable because of the recent media attention surrounding the death of Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone.

Wellstone’s ballot replacement, former Vice President Walter Mondale, will hold his only debate with Coleman at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater.

The debate will be broadcast live on Minnesota Public Radio and CNN.


Andrew Pritchard covers state politics and welcomes comments at [email protected]