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MINNESOTA POLITICS: Comic draws ire from Dems, Coleman ... McCain TV ads ... Campaign stops

ST. PAUL -- A comic booklike campaign piece with an obscene overtone supporting U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman has drawn the wrath of Democrats and Coleman. "We can't let our kids get the mail, thanks to his (Coleman's) friends in Washington," state Audi...

ST. PAUL -- A comic booklike campaign piece with an obscene overtone supporting U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman has drawn the wrath of Democrats and Coleman.

"We can't let our kids get the mail, thanks to his (Coleman's) friends in Washington," state Auditor Rebecca Otto said, one of a trio of Democratic leaders to demand Monday that Republican Coleman stop the literature's distribution and to apologize.

The comic book-looking campaign mailer features several pages of attacks on Coleman's main challenger, Democrat Al Franken, for his past work such as writing "a pornographic column in Playboy." It ends with: "Al Franken -- A bad example for our kids -- Completely unfit for public office."

Coleman, seeking his second term in the Senate, beat the Democrats to the punch. On Sunday night, he fired a heated e-mail off to the National Republican Senatorial Committee demanding that the literature no longer be distributed and that any pieces remaining should be destroyed.

"I'm astonished that anyone would have used such poor judgment," Coleman wrote to Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, chairman of the committee that distributed the literature.


Coleman asked that any pieces of the literature be destroyed.

In his late-Sunday e-mail, Coleman also mentions "Mr. Franken's repeated efforts at comedy using jokes about rape, child abuse and other degrading commentary during his career." Franken was a "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer, satirist, author and talk-radio host.

Coleman's demand that such negative advertisements be pulled was not enough for Democrats, including former Vice President Walter Mondale.

"This is trash literature," Mondale said.

Mondale, also a former senator, said Coleman should be able to convince Ensign's committee to stop distributing negative messages, even though federal law prohibits the senator and the committee from collaborating.

Armies spread out

Thousands of Minnesota volunteers are hitting the streets and the telephone lines on behalf of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama as the presidential race nears an end.

"Minnesota is a must-win state," Obama State Director Jeff Blodgett said Monday as he outlined the Obama campaign's plan to have 10,000 volunteers getting Minnesotans to the polls on Election Day.


The final blitz already began, with volunteers knocking on doors and making telephone calls on behalf of Obama and other Democratic candidates.

Ben Golnik, McCain's regional campaign chairman, would not disclose how many volunteers the Republican candidate will have but said it will be "in the ballpark" of the number Obama plans.

Golnik said the GOP effort is twice as big as in the 2004 President Bush campaign. Blodgett said Democrats also will have a larger effort than four years ago.

Volunteers are in a St. Paul basement this week preparing information packets to be used as volunteers fan out across the state.

Blodgett said he expects volunteers to knock on a half million doors, some up to four times.

Another 600,000 Minnesotans will receive as many as three telephone calls from his volunteers.

Democrats are targeting two types of Minnesotans to make sure they vote:

-- Those who are new or not regular voters will get extra attention.


-- Reliable Democratic voters will be reminded to vote.

Besides traditional efforts, which Blodgett called the most important part of the campaign, the campaign uses electronic text messages to reach 13,000 supporters; thousands more receive e-mails.

McCain cuts back

The Associated Press reports John McCain is reducing his Minnesota TV commercials. Most polls show Barack Obama leading the state, in some cases in double digits.

Ads come out

New cable television commercials supporting the constitutional amendment appearing on next week's ballot are appearing through much of Minnesota.

They try to use humor to tackle a concern for those backing the amendment, which would raise the sales tax to fund outdoors and arts programs.

State law requires that if anyone does not vote on a constitutional issue, it is counted as a "no" vote, and the commercials try to drive home that it is important to vote on the issue.


Barkley backed

As most major Minnesota newspapers editorially have endorsed U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman for a second term, the St. Cloud Times took a different route. The Times endorsed Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley, who trails Coleman and Democrat Al Franken by about 15 points in most polls.

Coming up

-- Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to visit Minneapolis for Al Franken's U.S. Senate campaign and Barack Obama's presidential efforts. Free tickets for the evening event will be available today from the Obama and Franken campaigns. The campaigns have not released specific details of the visit.

-- Gov. Tim Pawlenty today and Wednesday joins U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman at several Minnesota stops. Today's events include Farmington, Inver Grove Heights, Arden Hills, Hugo, Ham Lake, Anoka, Otsego and St. Paul. On Wednesday, the governor and senator plan to visit Willmar, St. Cloud, Sauk Centre, Glenwood Morris and Alexandria.

-- Candidate Al Franken, a Democrat, has stops planned today in Rochester and St. Paul, accompanied by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Former Gov. Wendell Anderson will join Franken at two St. Paul events.

-- Franken's wife, Franni, has campaign events today in Coon Rapids and St. Paul. Their daughter, Thomasin, plans to be in Little Falls, Cloquet and Duluth.

Davis writes for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald.

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