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VIDEO: "Special Interests" Say Thank You At Republican US Senate Campaign Launch

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Video by The UpTake.
Minnesota's US Senate seat is very much in play this year with Republican US Senator Norm Coleman's approval ratings hovering well below the 50% level. You may remember Senator Coleman as the designated "attack dog" on TV for the Republican party during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. During his 5 years in office he has strongly supported the Bush administration on nearly every major issue, which has made him the target of many progressive groups.

On Wednesday, protesters pretending to be representatives of the health industry, big oil and other "special interests" were lined up with thank you signs outside Republican Norm Coleman's US Senate Campaign Headquarters.

Inside, Republican Senator Coleman announced his bid for a second term. Coleman emphasized his optimism and his record, both as mayor of St. Paul and as a senator, in an effort to differentiate himself from likely Democratic nominee Al Franken.

Sports were mentioned frequently, particularly hockey. Coleman took several swipes at Franken without mentioning him by name.

Coleman said he was going to "work to bring people together to get things done" and attempted to portray himself as a non-partisan. More video, including Senator Coleman's entire speech, can be found at The UpTake.

Minnesota's Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) responded to Coleman's announcement with the following press release:

"It seems as though Norm Coleman is campaigning against himself for reelection," said Minnesota DFL Chair Brian Melendez. "But it's not surprising that he would run against his own record: five years of the Bush-Coleman economy, five years of Coleman taking millions in special-interest money, and five years of his protecting corporate special interests over the best interests of Minnesotans would make anyone run for the hills."

Coleman Campaigns Against Self:

Rhetoric: "I'm fighting for the people's interests, not the special interests." [Coleman Kick-Off Speech, 3/26/08]

Reality: Coleman Takes Big Money from Special Interests. Coleman took $206,100 from the oil and gas industry, $327,621 from the pharmaceutical industry, and $500,908 from the banking and credit industries. [Center for Responsive Politics, Accessed 3/26/08; 3/26/08; 3/26/08, 3/26/08]

Rhetoric: "And we welcome to this campaign all those who decide, like I did, that they want to pursue their American ideals above and beyond partisan politics." [Coleman Kick-Off Speech, 3/26/08]

Reality: Coleman Cast as GOP Point Man in Defense of Top Bush Advisor Karl Rove on Senate Floor: In July 2005, Coleman was tapped to lead the Republican rebuttal to calls by former Ambassador Joe Wilson for Bush to fire his senior aide Karl Rove. Coleman joined a broad GOP attack on Wilson and helped fend off an effort by Democrats to revoke Rove's security clearances. Democrats accused Rove of disclosing the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife. Coleman presided over a two-hour flare-up on the Senate floor on the matter, casting him as the Republicans' legal point man on Rove. [Star Tribune, 7/16/05]

Reality: Coleman Traveled to 2004 Democratic Convention to Lead Republican Attacks Against Bush's Opponent: In 2004, Coleman traveled to Boston for the Democratic National Convention to bury its upbeat convention theme of strength and security by criticizing Kerry's national security record as unwise. Coleman delivered the message at a 10 a.m. news conference at a Republican National Committee room as well as on the Fox News network, Atlanta radio, on CNBC's "Capitol Report," and at midmorning on every TV network affiliate in the Twin Cities and at night on the cable news channels. [Pioneer Press, 7/28/04]

Rhetoric: "We are for limited, effective government." [Coleman Kick-Off Speech, 3/26/08]

Reality: National Debt Nearly Doubled Under Bush, Now Growing at $1 Million per Minute. "The national debt -- the total accumulation of annual budget deficits -- is up from $5.7 trillion when President Bush took office in January 2001 and it will top $10 trillion sometime right before or right after he leaves in January 2009." [MSNBC.com (AP), 12/3/07]

Rhetoric: "... I've been a champion for ending our dependence on foreign oil with renewable fuels, wind energy, clean coal technology, nuclear energy and deep-water drilling." [Coleman Kick-Off Speech, 3/26/08]

Reality: Coleman Voted Against Renewable Energy Alternatives, Green Jobs. In April 2004, Coleman voted against a motion to limit debate on an amendment requiring that gasoline sold or introduced into the United States contain renewable fuel in specific amounts, beginning with 3.1 billion gallons in 2005 and increasing each year to 5 billion gallons in 2012. In 2006, Coleman voted against an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Resolution that would have raised the discretionary spending limit by $4 billion to allow for $3.5 billion in authorized energy programs, $500 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the extension of the renewable-energy-production tax credit and the clean renewable-energy bonds program. [Vote #73, 4/29/04; Vote #42, 3/14/06; E&E News, 3/14/06]

Reality: Before 2007, Coleman Voted Against Increasing CAFE Standards. After criticizing Senator Paul Wellstone during the 2002 campaign for supporting fuel-economy standards, Norm Coleman voted in 2003 against increasing CAFE standards to 40 miles per gallon by 2014. He then voted against an amendment in 2005 to raise CAFE standards for cars, SUVs, and minivans to 40 miles per gallon by 2016. [Star Tribune, 3/14/02; Vote #309, 7/29/03; Washington Times, 7/30/03; Vote #157, 6/29/05]

Rhetoric: "... I said I'd support or troops and our veterans and I did." [Coleman Kick-Off Speech, 3/26/08]

Reality: Coleman Protected Tax Breaks at the Expense of Veterans Funding. Coleman has voted at least six times to protect tax breaks for corporations and millionaires at the expense of increased funding for veterans. [Vote #63, 3/16/06; Vote #41, 3/14/06; Spokesman-Review, 3/15/06; Vote #15, 2/13/06; Dodd Floor Speech, 2/13/06; Vote #114, 4/28/05; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/6/05; Vote #40, 3/10/04; Tulsa World, 3/14/04; Vote #74, 3/21/03]

Rhetoric: "... I said I'd help bring seniors a drug benefit under Medicare and I did." [Coleman Kick-Off Speech, 3/26/08]

Reality: Coleman Voted For Medicare Prescription Drug Bill Heavily Tilted Towards Drug Companies. In 2003, Coleman voted for H.R. 1, a Medicare reform plan that is larded with perks for private companies that increase the cost of Medicare and hurt seniors. The legislation made it illegal for Medicare bargain over price with drug companies, which will add an additional $139 billion to corporate profits. The bill also blocked the re-importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. [Vote #459, 11/25/03; In These Times, 1/5/04; New York Times, 2/3/04; The Hill, 11/19/03]