Saturday, March 29, 2008

Senator Coleman Says It Best

I planned that my next post would be about the things Norm Coleman has done for Minnesota and for our Country. The Senator's speech at the launch of his reelection campaign on March 26 said it better than I ever could. These are his words:

My face and my name are familiar. But there are some things most people don’t know. I have lived in the same house on a quiet St. Paul street for 20 years. We send Sarah to college in the fall; at the same time Jake heads to the U of M law school.

Like families on every street we’ve had to empty out part of our retirement plans to pay for our kids’ education and support elderly parents.

And a few months ago we laid my dad to rest in Arlington Cemetery. He was a man of boundless enthusiasm and love. This is the first big step of my life I’ve taken without him by my side.
But his spirit encourages every beat of my heart today and I honor him by trying to serve with every ounce of energy God gives me.

I am very conscious of the fact that I stand between two generations: trying to honor the values and sacrifice of my Dad’s generation and working to create even greater opportunities for the world my kids will grow old in.

I respect and believe in public service as a high calling. As my favorite legendary mayor Joe Soucheray says, you don’t do it to be important; you do it to be useful. Public service is not about celebrity; it’s about problem-solving. And politics only has value if it leads to progress. We’ve made progress in the last six years in a challenging world. And we can do even more.

These past few years we’ve accomplished a lot for our state and our country. But America is a race without a finish line, and Minnesota is a leading participant in that race. After 150 years, we’re just getting started.

Proud of our past and eager to reach for our common future, I am humbled and excited to announce: today I am a candidate for another term as your senator.

I want to say right up front that I run for this office as a proud Republican because this party expresses and achieves the highest ideals of America.

Republicans believe in freedom first, and government programs after.

We believe in a strong national defense and an unshakeable relationship with our ally Israel. We should never go to the UN for a permission slip to pursue our national interest.

Republicans are for small businesses (especially those who pay their workers’ comp insurance) and we’re for the entrepreneur, not big media, big business, trial lawyers or any other special interest.

We are for quality jobs for working men and women.

We are for the family farm.

We are for the free exercise of faith.

We are for strengthening the family.

We are for limited, effective government.

And we are for protecting all life, from the moment of conception to natural death.

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.

Now we all know these are challenging times. Our economy has slowed. Our politics are divided. And our families are stressed. My wife and kids and I enjoy our lives, but we open the morning paper with the same anxiety all of you do. What’s going to happen today?

But life is more than emotion and history is more than circumstance. The ancient Hebrew prophets said without a vision the people perish. It is our common belief in a better future that helps us survive and prevail.

It is the task of leadership to define and nurture that vision.

That is almost reason enough for me to run for re-election: to be a voice of optimism in a cynical time.

If we as Minnesotans don’t believe we can succeed, then we are probably right. But I’m here to say I believe in Minnesota’s and America’s bright future.

Optimism is not a republican virtue, or democrat virtue; it’s an American virtue. Optimism is more than a feeling, it’s an approach.

It’s a way of seeing obstacles as opportunities; it’s an ability to turn challenges into chances for greatness. America’s greatness and Minnesota’s also - comes from our ability to summon optimism and hope when the facts seem to point to despair and defeat.

Our economy is hurting; folks are losing their homes and worried about the cost of their health care.

We have reached such a time when we really, really need to draw about our resilient spirit of confidence and our unified capability for action, and move our nation forward.

My heroes are hopeful people:

David Ben Gurion who said, “Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist.”

Ronald Reagan, who talked about the song the settlers sang as they pushed west, “It is the American sound… hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair.”

And Helen Keller, who said: “Security in this life is an illusion… life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.”

I love my country and I love Minnesota… Because we are perfect? No. Because unlike other places on this globe, we always find the motivation to rise above circumstances and end up better than where we began.

The events of 2007 say more about MN than any politician ever could about what kind of place we are: we had floods, fires, droughts and the bridge collapse, and yet our people and their government stepped forward and met those extreme challenges one by one. Minnesotans refused to quit or to whine or become victims. We chose to be neighbors instead.

We didn’t just survive, we prevailed; we’re not just moving on, we’re moving forward. We didn’t just find a way out, we found our way together.

We are part of a proud history. In his message to the Congress of 1862, Lincoln called America “the last best hope of earth.”

He said that at a time when millions remained in slavery, the Civil War was claiming thousands of lives each month and terrible economic hardships were weighing on the people.

And yet he was full of the kind of optimism that sustains and leads.

In a small, local way, I know something about this from personal experience. I became mayor of Saint Paul, in a dark time. Jobs were leaving, crime was growing and taxes were rising. By the time I completed eight years of no tax increases, of eight years of making our capital city more livable and affordable for middle class families: thousands of new jobs were added; billions of dollars were invested in reconnecting with our Mississippi River and we brought the National Hockey League back to Minnesota-where it always belonged.

As a mayor I simply brought people together to work very hard to get things done for our city. We didn’t point fingers, we joined hands. We softened our voices and we lifted our sights. That is my experience, my pattern and my approach to governing during 32 years of public service in Minnesota.

With Norm Coleman, bringing people together to get things done is what you see and what you get.

I am running on my record, because unlike my likely opponent, I have one. What a concept: before you serve in the U.S. Senate, maybe you should have done something to show you can actually do the job.

In my 17 years with the Minnesota attorney general’s office, I traveled to every corner of this great state prosecuting criminals.

As mayor, I helped rebuild a capital city that we could all be proud of.

As your Senator I’ve tried to be “Minnesota’s mayor in Washington”: putting the emphasis on serving your needs, no project too big or too small. I’m willing to work with anybody who helps get the job done. I learned a long time ago that there are some problems that are too big for one party to solve.

I’ve visited all 87 counties at least twice, listening and learning what you need from your national government. My staff and I have been to every single City in this state over 800 - large, small and in between. We’re not looking for a medal: that’s our job.

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.

And I kept my promises to Minnesotans. I said I’d oppose drilling in ANWR and I did.
I said I’d support or troops and our veterans and I did. I succeeded in improving health care for our veteran’s and securing funding for a national “made in Minnesota” model for reintegrating our brave troops coming home from Iraq.

And so much more:

I’ve worked to increase low income heating assistance for the poor and fought cuts in service to the most vulnerable Minnesotan’s.

I’ve championed rural development and worked to insure that the quality of health care doesn’t depend on your zip code.

As Chair of the Permanent Investigation subcommittee I uncovered $14 billion in wasteful Washington spending.

I blew the lid off the corruption of the Oil for Food Program that financed Saddam’s terror at our expense.

I’ve held millionaires and corporate America accountable by exposing sham tax shelters-and brought billions of tax dollars back into the U.S. treasury.

I worked with the our Minnesota delegation, the administration, the governor and local officials to fund the new I-35W bridge that is already rising from the river as symbol of recovery and progress.

We helped over 3,000 Minnesotan’s secure passports after the system collapsed-and that nightmare will never occur again, because we’ve brought a passport office to Minnesota next year.

I worked to protect our ports so we can have greater security that terrorists aren’t smuggling-in nuclear weapons.

I have worked with family farmers on disaster assistance, and helped break the log jam that was preventing passage of the critically needed farm bill for Minnesota.

I said I’d help bring seniors a drug benefit under Medicare and I did. I said I’d support good judges, who interpret the Constitution, not reinvent it, and I did and they’re making wise decisions that protect this country and foster freedom.

I could go on and on, and during this campaign, I will! … about all that has been accomplished, but there is so much more we need to do.

At a time like this, when national partisanship is so inflamed, we need uniters not dividers.
And when its all said and done, after all the bills, all the hearings and the votes, I would say what matters most to me are the people I’ve been able to help.

I met Pete Panos here, over in Iraq, when he was a member of the famous Red Bulls, the greatest National Guard unit in America.

Now he advises me on how we provide support for all veterans. After listening to Pete and many other Minnesota veterans, I personally spoke to Secretary Gates and helped guarantee full education benefits for all of our troops who served in Iraq.

I pushed for GI bill education benefits for spouses who had to quit school to care for their families when their spouses were on 15 month tours of duty. And we just recently, for the first time in over 30 years raised the mileage reimbursement for vets traveling to VA facilities for health care. Pete, we thank you for your service.

Joe and Linda Goleski here had in their hearts the hope of adopting a baby from Guatemala. They were caught in a bureaucratic nightmare.

As Linda put it, “Until you’ve been alone in a foreign country, with a new baby, and no one to be your advocate, you have no idea how scary the experience can be.”

We became their advocate, leaned hard on the Guatemalan government and they brought baby, Sophia, home to be a Minnesotan.

And Sergeant Tom Shilling is with us here today, too.

Tom went through the military process to get a two week leave from Iraq to be at his daughter’s wedding.

It was all approved — until his commanding officer tore it up. We were on the phone in 5 minute intervals for hours to get someone on the line with the authority to fix it.

It was small joy to us and huge one to him when he arrived with 24 hours to spare and walked his daughter down the aisle. Thanks for your service, Tom and for the chance to serve you.
Friends, it’s not labels or speeches that matter: it’s people. Protecting their freedom and creating policies that serve them.

I’m fighting for the people’s interests, not the special interests.

The soldiers, the elderly, the college kids, the middle class and the working families–these are the people who deserve a senator who fights for them-and has shown he can produce results.
I have, I am, and with your help in November, I will for years to come.

I was born a long way from here. But 32 years ago I made a choice that gave me the incredible opportunity to lead a Minnesota life.

My heart brought me to this place to marry the woman who stands with me in this adventure. Our love brought me the two beautiful children who stand with us today as young adults.
Over those three decades I’ve experienced the joys of fishing on crystal clear Minnesota lakes, celebrating two baseball world championships-and dropping the puck at the first game of the Minnesota Wild.

I’ve also faced difficulties and heartbreaks here. Laurie and I buried our first son Adam and our youngest daughter Grace in the good earth of Minnesota.

But our grief gave us a greater love for the sanctity of all human life.

Through it all, the spirit of family and faith that is so strong in this state has sustained me.

I’ve never lost the sense of hope and optimism that this is the land of 10,000 dreams and daily miracles in the lives of regular people.

Minnesota is a place that respects hard work, common sense and public service. That’s the Minnesota I want to continue to work for in the uncertain future that we face.

For limited, effective government that lives within its means.

For success in Iraq and then an orderly withdrawal.

For affordable health care for all Minnesotan’s, without turning it over to the government folks who did Katrina relief and the welfare programs that ruined so many.

For tax cuts, less regulation and free and fair trade, not a clumsy, inflexible and intrusive government and protectionism.

For a judiciary that respects the Constitution and traditional values, and not one that tries to govern through social experimentation from the bench.

I see beyond today’s cloudy horizon to a bright American future.

I’m not willing to cede the 21st Century to the Chinese or anyone else. That’s because I will work hard to make sure we have the smartest kids, the best trained workers and a dynamic economy based on our unlimited entrepreneurial spirit.

I see a bold new American technology leading the way to the next stage of global economic growth.

I especially see new green technology creating robust new 21st century job opportunities as we fulfill our commitments to clean the air, the water and the land we hold so dear in the Land of 10,000 lakes.

I see citizen engagement, market principles and innovative government solving our problems in health care, housing, energy and education.

I see the march of freedom continuing over the rocky road of terrorism and totalitarianism to a better future for all.

And I see Minnesota and Minnesotans leading the way in all of these areas.

Lincoln closed that famous message to Congress I quoted earlier with these words, talking about the unique American pathway through trouble: “The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”

That’s the path of public service for me: plain - not Hollywood; peaceful - not divisive; generous - not mean spirited; and just - not political.

Isn’t that what we all want? Republicans, Democrats and Independents?

As Minnesotans, there is so much more that unites us than divides us. This campaign isn’t about me…it’s about you — your families, your dreams, your future. That’s why I asked to be your senator six years ago. And that’s why I ask you today to let me continue the job.

Together, we can make a great state even greater and a proud country even prouder.

Let me repeat something I said when I first sought this office six years ago. In the Bible it says that those who have been faithful in little things will be entrusted with greater things.

I have learned a lot in all my experiences in public service - from both my successes and my mistakes.

I would say with honest humility, I think what I do best is what Minnesota needs most: an experienced, optimistic problem-solver who can do more than talk about change: I can actually bring people together to get things done for Minnesota.

As Americans, we are the last best hope of earth: let’s rise above lesser things and make our parents proud and our children grateful.

May God continue bless America and the State of Minnesota as we work to be worthy of that blessing.

And may God bless you all.

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