Clinton urges Democrats to work
MINNEAPOLIS - Sen. Hillary Clinton told Minnesota Democrats that if Al Franken is not elected to the Senate, ambitious plans of a Barack Obama presidency could hit a Republican road block.
Clinton, who challenged Obama in a historic run for their party's presidential nomination, urged supporters at a Minneapolis rally Tuesday to work extra hard in the campaign's final 13 days to send Franken to the Senate.
"I believe that with your help and your hard work in the next two weeks, we're going to elect Al Franken," Clinton told a crowd packed into the university's McNamara Alumni Center.
The event was billed as a rally for Franken's bid against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, but Clinton and others touted the entire Democratic ticket, from Obama on down to Minnesota legislative candidates.
Still, Clinton used most of her 17-minute speech to stress the importance of sending Franken to the Senate. She said Democrats hold a slim majority and need 60 votes to block Republican filibusters. If Franken does not beat Coleman, that could stymie the agenda of an Obama presidency and Democrat-controlled Congress, she said.
"In other words, unless we reach 60 votes in the Senate, we won't end the Bush era," Clinton said. "We will continue to be fighting and be frustrated by what we know the country needs but unable to overcome the opposition, the rear-guard action of those Republicans who are left."
"Al Franken, with your help, can be our 60th vote in the United States Senate for change and progress," she added to loud applause from the roughly 2,000 people who crammed into the event to hear the former first lady.
The Minneapolis rally was the first of two Minnesota stops for Clinton Tuesday. She left the University of Minnesota campus headed for Hibbing, where she was to rally Iron Rangers for the Obama campaign.
Clinton's visit marked the first of two high-profile Minnesota campaign stops by New Yorkers for a pair of native New Yorkers.
On Thursday and Friday, former New York mayor and presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani will campaign for Coleman. Both Franken and Coleman were born in New York.
Coleman spokesman Mark Drake issued a statement welcoming Clinton to Minnesota, "a state where the Minnesota values that Norm Coleman has fought for over the past 32 years remain strong and vibrant."
"The people of this state want a senator who is going to oppose tax increases on the hard-working people of our state, who will fight to protect Social Security, insist on energy independence and balance the budget in five years, and that senator is Norm Coleman," Drake said.
Franken urged supporters to volunteer for Democratic candidates, work the phones, knock on doors and talk to friends and neighbors before Nov. 4.
"I don't want to wake up on Nov. 5 and wish I'd done just a little bit more," he said, "and neither do any of you."
With two weeks remaining in a nearly two-year campaign to unseat Coleman, Franken, a former comedian, demonstrated some of the humor he largely has kept in check while on the stump.
During Franken's speech Tuesday, a man in the audience shouted that the candidate is "pro-America."
"I wouldn't necessarily be so sure," Franken said, pausing before adding, "Mr. Bachmann."
The line was a reference to Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's comment Friday that she is concerned Obama may have "anti-American views."
At another point, he asked the crowd if they remember that 23 million jobs were created during the Clinton administration.
"Vaguely," a man yelled.
Franken replied: "I'll do the jokes, sir."
Some in the overflow crowd only were there to hear Clinton. That included Grace Sanchez of Woodbury, who said she had to see Clinton after supporting the senator's presidential bid.
"I just want to see her in person," Sanchez said. "She represents a lot of the things I'm in tune with."