CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
America Votes: Replacing Wellstone
Aired October 28, 2002 - 10:20 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: With Wellstone's death, Democrats are now forced to scramble for his replacement on next week's ballot. The seat and control of the Senate could well hang in the balance.
And we've brought in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, to join me with a closer look.
Actually, I should say they brought me in, because I'm in your hometown here.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Welcome to Washington...
KAGAN: Yes, it's great to sit right next to you -- good to see you.
SCHNEIDER: ... which is now much safer.
KAGAN: Yes, absolutely, and glad for that -- many thanks for that.
Looking at this, all weekend long you heard one word as a replacement: Mondale.
SCHNEIDER: That's the word, and it looks like the family would like him to take that position. And the indications are that he's inclined to do it.
He is, you know, yesterday's man. He hasn't run in Minnesota for the Senate since 1970. He ran for vice president in '76 and president in 1984, carried only Minnesota and the District of Columbia.
But to a lot of people in Minnesota, he's an icon. He's a figure who comes out of the state's great political past. He's going to be tough to beat.
KAGAN: Because of that, though, because he hasn't been in public office so long, do you think it was a tough sell for the Democrats to him? What did they have to offer him in order to make his...
SCHNEIDER: Well, what we don't know is have they offered him a particular committee chairmanship, if the Democrats retain their majority. Will have his seniority, having served 12 years previously in the Senate? Those kinds of deals are probably going on right now behind closed doors.
KAGAN: Well, one thing we do know for sure, it would be one of the shortest campaigns in Senate history...
KAGAN: ... because it would last all of a week...
SCHNEIDER: That's right.
KAGAN: ... if that.
SCHNEIDER: And why Mondale? Because he has instantaneous stature. He's someone well-known, an established figure in Minnesota politics. And the Democrats obviously need someone who can do that. They cannot -- they have no time to introduce a new candidate to the voters.
KAGAN: No. So, what do Republicans do to counter that?
SCHNEIDER: Not much they can do.
SCHNEIDER: Because they're countering not only Mondale's stature, but the memory of Paul Wellstone, which will be revived and celebrated tomorrow night at the -- it's a memorial service.
So, Mondale comes in with an aura that he's taking over the mantle of Paul Wellstone. That's a very tough thing to run against.
KAGAN: In the minute that we have left, I want to ask you, looking at the election overall, because there is so much at stake here, issues coming up at the last second.
SCHNEIDER: The economy, the economy, the economy is what we are seeing in total.
KAGAN: But where has that been the whole time?
SCHNEIDER: It's been buried under other concerns like the war on terrorism. But the economy has taken a turn for the worse. Most people are becoming much more pessimistic. We're seeing just in the past couple of months economic anxieties rising.
This is not what the Republicans were counting on. I think they were counting on concentrating this election on national security, the war on terrorism, Iraq. But underneath it all, the economy has gotten bigger and bigger.
This should be good news for Democrats. We haven't seen a payoff yet. I mean, we're not seeing Democrats surging at the polls, but live elections are getting very close. But when the economy is bad, it's never good news for the party that controls the White House.
KAGAN: And before we let you go, I think got off the Wellstone topic a little too soon. Norm Coleman, the Republican running for Senate seat. I want to make sure we give a mention of him. And also, what can he possible do? He was lost. He was giving a great fight to Wellstone or against Wellstone, and made it a great race. And now, he's going to be running against -- we think, against an icon and also a memory.
SCHNEIDER: Right now, he has suspended his campaign.
SCHNEIDER: There is no way he can campaign. This had been one of the nastiest campaigns in the country. There are a lot of very tough independent, negative advertising.
I think what's going to happen is he'll take the high road. He has welcomed Walter Mondale into the race if he decides to do it. But I think that it will be left to other Republicans and independent forces to try to criticize Walter Mondale, who, as you remember in 1984 was a controversial candidate, because he promised to raise taxes and Reagan just devastated him. That memory will be revived, but probably not by Coleman himself.
KAGAN: We'll be watching it, and I know you will, too.
SCHNEIDER: I will.
KAGAN: Bill Schneider, thanks so much.
SCHNEIDER: Sure, Daryn.
KAGAN: Great to see you in person.
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