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MINNESOTA POLITICS NOTEBOOK: Democrats go after Pawlenty

ST. PAUL -- Democrats are not waiting for Gov. Tim Pawlenty to become John McCain's running mate; they are attacking now. The Democratic National Committee has launched www.thenextcheney.com, which criticizes the leading Republican vice president...

ST. PAUL -- Democrats are not waiting for Gov. Tim Pawlenty to become John McCain's running mate; they are attacking now.

The Democratic National Committee has launched www.thenextcheney.com , which criticizes the leading Republican vice presidential contenders, including Minnesota's governor.

In a telephone conference call with reporters introducing the Web site, state Sen. Kathy Saltzman, DFL-Woodbury, said Pawlenty is too partisan: "The success of our state is a result of a long-standing tradition in which politicians have put our state first before partisan politics. That has not been the case with our current governor."

She said that in many negotiations, "at the very end, he walks away."

Added Brian Melendez, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chairman: "Pawlenty represents more of the Bush-Cheney style of politics."


Cities get a shot

Gov. Tim Pawlenty introduced a Washington audience to two Minnesota cities -- Alexandria and Stillwater.

As Pawlenty discussed growth of government, he told the National Press Club audience that in the past when speaking to groups back home, he would ask for a show of hands of people whose paychecks were growing beyond 3 percent.

"I had one person in Alexandria, Minn., who raised his hand and said, 'My paycheck's going up like 50 percent,'??" Pawlenty said, adding he asked the man of his occupation. "He said, 'I was unemployed, and now I've got a paccheck.'??"

Pawlenty gave the audience another minor geography lesson when talking about how he believes education is becoming more tech-based.

"Why would you drive from Stillwater, Minn., in January one hour in rush hour to get over to the University of Minnesota campus, park in a remote parking lot, put on your backpack, haul across campus in challenging weather conditions, get into a lecture hall, unpack, sit in a chair and then have a sometimes gifted, sometimes not assistant professor lecture you on Economics 101 -- and pay a great price for it?" Pawlenty asked.

"Why would you not get out of bed in your pajamas, pour yourself a cup of coffee and sit on your sofa and dial it up?"

Dry after 2 a.m.


Few bars in the Twin Cities are paying the $2,500 fee to stay open until 4 a.m. Sept. 1-4 during the Republican National Convention.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported no establishments have asked St. Paul for a

4 a.m. license.

In some cases, convention co-host city Minneapolis has dropped its fee to $100.

Meanwhile, restaurant and hotel bars that normally close at 2 a.m. in Bloomington are simply being asked to let the city know if they plan to stay open later.

Executive director Jim Farrell of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association said there doesn't seem to be the predicted interest in late-night parties.

No Obama on ag

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat who serves a vast area of western, central and southern Minnesota, invited presidential candidate Barack Obama to southwest Minnesota's FarmFest, but Obama declined.


Peterson said: "I gave my advice to them, as I did with Nancy Pelosi."

But Obama campaign officials rejected the invitation.

Two years ago, he invited soon-to-be House Speaker Pelosi to the ag event, which won her over to Peterson's work on a new farm bill.

Peterson had hoped an Obama visit would do the same if Obama is elected president.

Obama's Minnesota campaign spokesman, Nick Kimball, said that his candidate understands the importance of attending the FarmFes event, but logistics prevented the Democrat from visiting the agriculture trade show despite Obama's be in Minneapolis on the last day of FarmFest.

Who's to blame?

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told a FarmFest audience that she recently was in Oklahoma to see off National Guard troops. In 109-degree weather, about 37 people fainted during the ceremony.

When Klobuchar's daughter heard about the episode, she said, "Mom talked so long that 37 people fainted."


No one fainted during the senator's FarmFest talk.

Franken backers

Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum, breaking a long icy delay, endorsed DFL Senate candidate Al Franken for Senate on Friday.

McCollum once called Franken someone "who has pornographic writings that are indefensible," and she offered no apologies for the strong criticism Friday.

"To have remained silent when asked would have been hypocritical and dishonest," she said in a letter to Democrats in her 4th Congressional District, posted on her campaign Web site Friday. "I am confident my concerns have been heard, and since then, I have watched Al's campaign take steps to address these matters."

McCollum, who had supported Franken DFL rival Mike Ciresi until he dropped out of the race, said at the time she was worried that Franken could pose a problem for other Democratic congressional candidates in Minnesota.

Also Friday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked supporters to contribute money to Franken's campaign.

Davis and Wente report for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald. This notebook also contains material from The Associated Press.

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