Norm Coleman on the home stretch

TK’s Coffee in Lillydale, Minnesota is the family owned coffee shop perched on the bank of the Mississippi River down the street from where I live in a small suburb of St. Paul. I try to stop there as frequently as possible on mornings when I’m taking my daughter Alexandra to school. Proprietor Tony Koury always has a warm smile and a kind word for both of us. Tony is up early to make the fabulous caramel rolls and baked goods that are sitting warm in the bakery case by the time we show up around 7:45.

Yesterday when I stopped in Tony told me that Senator Coleman would be making a campaign appearance in his shop at 9:30 this morning. It turned out to be Senator Coleman’s second stop of the morning — he was coming in from Woodbury — on a day that includes stops in Burnsville, Lakeville, Rosemount, Prior Lake, Chanhassen, Eden Prairie, Plymouth, Champlin and St. Michael. It is a long day that is to end tonight in Rogers, Minnesota.

I went down to greet Senator Coleman at TK’s this morning and found a crowd of about 100 enthusiastic supporters shoehorned into Tony’s storefront coffee shop. Among the crowd were Pioneer Press reporter Bill Salisbury, AP reporter Brian Bakst and my attorney friends Ted Sullivan and Dan Shapiro.

Senator Coleman arrived punctually and received a warm welcome. He spoke for about 20 minutes, beginning with a tribute to Tony and his family for striving to build up a small family business with their sweat equity. He invoked his record as mayor of St. Paul and his connections to Minnesotans all around the state. He advocated a positive attitude to the problems confronting the country, which he eloquently addressed.

He also pointed to the virtually unanimous outpouring of endorsements from newspapers throughout Minnesota, including even the liberal Star Tribune and the Marshall Independent, which broke with its policy of nonendorsement to support Senator Coleman’s reelection this year. The Coleman Web site has collected newspaper endorsements here.

Senator Coleman closed with two quotes, one from the Jewish sage Maimonides and one from Mother Teresa. Senator Coleman quoted Maimonides’ admonition that “A person should see himself and the whole world as being on a knife edge, precisely and exquisitely balanced.” With one good deed, Maimonides says, a person “can alter the balance of his life and the whole world to the side of blessing and life.” I doubt I’ll hear a politician quoting Maimonides again any time soon. It was a terrific performance. You can contribute to Senator Coleman’s campaign here, and he needs the help.

After Al Franken and the Democrats have spent somewhere north of $10 million to take him down, Senator Coleman seems to have built up a narrow lead over Franken. No amount of money can make enough Minnesotans like Al Franken for Franken to win the election. As a result, almost all of the Democratic money has gone into outrageous negative advertising against Senator Coleman by Franken and the DSCC.

Smelling 60 votes in the Senate, the DSCC has gone beyond throwing the kitchen sink at Senator Coleman with a new set of attack ads. Franken’s internal polls must show him trailing Senator Coleman. On Thursday a former Democratic officeholder called to tell me that he had seen Franken’s treasurer walking down the street in Minneapolis visibly dejected. This is one race that may not give Democrats cause for celebration on November 4, but the race shouldn’t be as close as it is.

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