CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Debate Between Norm Coleman and Walter Mondale
Aired November 4, 2002 - 10:48 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: It is a Senate race that has been turned upside down by tragedy. In just a few minutes, the two candidates will meet in their first and only debate before tomorrow's election.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The polls show that this Senate race, like so many others, this one between former vice president Walter Mondale and former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, a Democrat turned Republican, is neck and neck. As you know, they are competing for the seat of Senator Paul Wellstone who died in a plane crash a little more than a week ago.
WOODRUFF: The two candidates that we know are going to square off, Jeff, on the stage of the Fitzgerald Theater, that's in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. The debate is set to begin at the top of the hour. That's about 10 minutes from now. We will carry it live. Also CNN political analyst Bill Schneider is here and he'll be with us throughout the hour.
Jeff, this is unprecedented. Number one, we haven't had a debate this late, that I'm aware of, in any political campaign and in a race where it is so close.
GREENFIELD: It is extraordinary. There are plenty of places where there's a traditional Sunday night debate before the election and New York has had that for years. But for a debate to be held, literally, less than 24 hours before the polls open, as far as I know, has never happened.
And I suppose, apart from the extraordinary circumstances, the death of Paul Wellstone, so late in the campaign, it's also a testament to the kind of State Minnesota is. This is, in many ways, the most civic-minded state in America. It has the highest voting turnout of any state in the country. Turned out 68 percent in 2001; the rest of the country was barely around 51 percent. The idea of civic engagement is rooted very deeply in Minnesotans' bones.
And overlaying all of this, of course, we've already mentioned that you've got the tragic death of Paul Wellstone in a plane crash, just ten days ago and a situation where the state has, literally, been turned upside down. I mean, you had the outpouring of sympathy for Paul Wellstone, and then you had the memorial service for him that turned into almost a rally that the Republicans then turned around and used to energize their base.
GREENFIELD: Yes, I think if the polls had shown Walter Mondale, say, 10 or 15 point as head, which I think some Democrats were expecting when he first came into the race, we may not be having this debate. But I think one of the things that has happened is that the Democrats have decided that if they don't show that Walter Mondale at 74 years old, 30 years removed from his last Senate run, is up to it, can stand up to this man 21 years younger than he is, who has been heading the past versus future (ph), if they can't show that to the people of Minnesota, they might lose this race.
WOODRUFF: A lot of pressure today. I think it's fair to say everybody agrees on Walter Mondale. Well, as you can imagine, what Mondale is talking about is what Jeff just mentioned, his experience as a former vice president, a former United States senator, but Republicans are saying Coleman represents the future, not the past. And for a little more of a preview of what we might expect in the debate, let's check in with our Bob Franken, he's live with us from St. Paul at the site of this debate.
BOB FRANKEN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello. And if you need any proof, Jeff, about the engagement of the people in Minnesota in politics, look around me. Here we have -- this is mainly a group of Coleman supporters, who are making their support known. We've had a meeting of the minds, shall I say, that they'll try and keep it down a little bit, so we can talk about all that's going on here -- being the Fitzgerald Theater, which is in downtown St. Paul. Coleman was the mayor -- Norm Coleman was the mayor St. Paul for eight years.
Just up the street at the Capitol, at the same time the debate is supposed to begin, the governor, Jesse Ventura, independent, is going to hold a news conference at the very same time he's supposed to announce who will be the interim senator who would replace Paul Wellstone.
There's some question about the legalities of how long he would serve. It could have huge implications for the balance of power, if there is a lame duck session of Congress. All of that is going to happen, as I said, at the same time the debate is occurring. There is a widespread view here that that is reaction to that is a manifestation of Ventura is upset about the fact that this debate is only including Coleman and Mondale and not the minor candidates. Of course, Ventura is an independent.
Now who is he going to choose? Well, he has solicited applications from people who are, quote, "regular people" and he got hundreds of applications. We're going to find out which ones survived that process. As I said, at the very same time the debate is starting. So Ventura, obviously, likes to be in the limelight and he has found a way to at least be a distraction, as this debate goes on.
WOODRUFF: Bob, I even saw where, just the other day, Jesse Ventura said he'd been thinking of about his garbage man, the man who collects his garbage, as somebody he might appoint. You're right. I mean, we're talking about somebody who is unpredictable. And the fact he's making the announcement exactly at the same time this debate is taking place, sends all sorts of messages.
FRANKEN: Well, and, of course, we now have to worry that if he doesn't name his garbage man, he will dash the hopes of that fellow. So you know, we're going to -- it's going to be something that is going to be watched closely, of course. We can't ignore that. That, of course, will be going on, as I said, at the same time as the debate, but the business at hand is an election that's going happen tomorrow. The race is extremely close. As a matter of fact, Democratic sources who have been credible, say that they've just done an internal poll and they show that it is four-point split. That is statistically insignificant. It's consistent with other polls which show a margin really too close to call.
WOODRUFF: All right. Bob Franken. And obviously, we're going to be continuing to come to you.
Bill Schneider is joining Jeff Greenfield and me. Bill, one thing. Bill, one thing, you know, we've been talking about the reason Ventura is doing that. He's angry. The Independent Party candidate, as well as the Green Party candidate, for the first time, have been left out of a debate between the two Senate candidates and in a very close race, those candidates could make a difference.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Everything could make a difference. They were only a couple points apart. And each of those candidates is drawing 1 or 2 percent. Obviously, that's enough to make a difference in this race.
In Minnesota, third-party candidates have real meaning. Jesse Ventura was elected as a Reform Party candidate, left that party and became an independent. Tim Penny, a former democratic congressman, is now running as the Independent Party -- Independence Party candidate for governor. He stands a very good chance of being elected. So there is a real sense that third-parties should matter. Debates also matter. Debates created Jesse Ventura, because he was invited to participate in five debates in 1998, that gave him the exposure and the standing that eventually led to his being elected.
GREENFIELD: There's one thing about this race, if I may -- I just got off the phone a few minutes ago with a reasonably significant Republican fellow in all this, who says the way they're running this, first of all, that they've been positive and, second of all, he said, we're making this campaign a mayor for the state, that's Norm Coleman, former (UNINTELLIGIBLE), versus a statesman for the world.
They're not trying to denigrate the fact that Walter Mondale is an iconic figure, who as ambassador to Japan after he left the Senate. What they're just saying is, it's another riff off the past versus present. Yes, fine old gentleman, very good meeting with the world. You need a tough, fighting, young vigorous in effect mayor who can get things done for the state. I think you're going to hear some of that theme in one way or another today.
WOODRUFF: No question. Norm Coleman has a very interesting -- he's got his work cut out for him. Walter Mondale I think has even more work cut out for him, but Coleman has got to walk that fine line. He's got to be able to say, you know, I respect Walter Mondale, we all respect the memory of Paul Wellstone but the fact is, I'm here. I've been on the ground. I've been mayor of a city. I know what the issues are.
SCHNEIDER: And he's got to try to raise some negative issues against Walter Mondale without being negative. That is a very difficult thing to do. I mean, there's going to be a lot of attention to him, as well.
We should mention that the Jesse Ventura appointment, there's some dispute about this, but many of the people in Minnesota that I spoke to say this appointment will only be for a couple of weeks, that once the winner of this election is certified two weeks from tomorrow, that person will take office immediately because because of Wellstone's death, the Senate seat will presumably be vacant, but we don't know.
WOODRUFF: Which raises the question of why is he doing this and why is he doing it at the last minute? I mean, you know, Jesse Ventura
SCHNEIDER: Ventura --
GREENFIELD: How about --
WOODRUFF: He is not running for re-election.
GREENFIELD: How about because he's Jesse Ventura? I do think he -- you know, he walked out of that memorial service when it turned partisan. And I think a lot of people felt that that had turned sour. You know, the fact that Republican senators who had come there were booed by the crowd. It was a crowd of thousands. They were overwrought. And it hurt. I think it gave -- I think it gave Ventura a chance to make one more gesture on the stage before he exits to do, oh, lord know, whatever he decides to do.
SCHNEIDER: Worth mentioning this is not only the final debate of the campaign, it's also the first debate of this campaign. I mean, this is the very first debate, the first time they've ever seen Norm Coleman and Walter Mondale standing up against each other, the day before the electric.
WOODRUFF: Well, it wasn't at all clear, you know, when the Democrats announced that it was going to be Mondale that there was even going to be a debate. I mean, the Coleman people immediately starting asking for it daily. They wanted five debates...
SCHNEIDER: Five debates.
WOODRUFF: ... from the day that Mondale was appointed, or even six.
Anderson Cooper, our own Anderson Cooper is in Minneapolis, St. Paul. Anderson, you are at the place where Governor Ventura is going to make this announcement? ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Judy. Actually, I'm right outside the room right now at the state capitol, just a few blocks from the Fitzgerald Center where the debate is to take place. We are expecting Governor Ventura any moment now, and a lot of people are wondering who he is going to be naming.
WOODRUFF: What are people, Anderson, around him, saying about the timing of this?
COOPER: Well, the people -- they're not saying it. I think the very fact that there is a press conference scheduled for the exact same time that the debate is supposed to begin really says it all. I think as Jeff Greenfield mentioned a few moments ago, you know, politics often gets very personal here and some people are saying this is a very personal statement by Governor Jesse Ventura, a statement of anger.
WOODRUFF: But there's no question that because this person -- I mean, it is possible that if the Senate went back into session in the next two weeks before the winner was certified, if you have a truly close election and they end up hand counting every ballot, I mean, we could be in a situation where this person could be sitting in the Senate casting votes for Minnesota.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. At first Jesse Ventura said he would name -- this is a couple of weeks ago -- a Democrat because Paul Wellstone was a Democrat. But then after that rally he said no, he'll name an independent because the Democrats really made him angry.
COOPER (?): We also just heard from Governor Ventura a few days ago he would name a regular person, and people have actually been sending in their applications to apply for this. So a lot of curious people here are wondering what's going to happen in the next couple of minutes.
WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to go from where Anderson is at the capitol about where the governor is about to make his announcement to the site of the debate. This is the historic Fitzgerald Theater, it's in St. Paul. This is the city where Norm Coleman served as mayor. The format is fairly open and freewheeling. There are two co-hosts, Gary Ichtin with Minnesota Public Radio, we're told, and also Paul Majors, who is a news anchor with KARE television there in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area.
We're told that they're going to make no opening statements, but that there will be questions from the two co-hosts or moderators for about 20 minutes, then they're going to open it up to the audience for questions. And we're told that the audience is a mix of some local Minnesota reporters and also some Minnesotan citizens -- Jeff.
GREENFIELD: You'll remember that in 1984, when Gary Hart was challenging Mondale very, very effectively, beat him in New Hampshire, beat him in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) race, there was a key debate around the table, where Walter Mondale looked at Gary Hart and said, when I hear your ideas, I'm reminded of that old television commercial "Where's the Beef?". And that was probably the beginning of Walter Mondale's recovery that led to the nomination.
It will be very interesting, he has not debated in 1984 since he debated Reagan, but let's here what happens now.
WOODRUFF: All right, let's go to the site of the debate.
PAUL MAJORS, MODERATOR: I'm Paul Majors, and we're broadcasting from the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul, where the two leading candidates for the U.S. Senate, Republican Norm Coleman, and Democrat Walter Mondale have come together for their one and only debate prior to tomorrow's election.
My co-host for today's debate is Minnesota Public Radio's Gary Eichten.
GARY EICHTEN, MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO: Thanks, Paul. The ground rules for the debate are pretty simple. During the first segment, Paul and I will take turns questioning the candidates. Later, we'll be taking questions from the audience here at the Fitz and via the Internet. We'll direct the questions to each candidate in rotating order. The other candidate will then have a chance to respond, and then the candidates will have a chance for further discussion, if they wish.
Now, we're not keeping a stopwatch on the candidates, but we are encouraging them to keep their answers relatively brief, and each candidate will have 90 seconds at the end of the debate to make a closing statement. To give the candidates the most time possible to actually discuss the issues, we've asked the audience here at the Fitzgerald to hold their applause until the end of the debate.
MAJORS: And by the way, we recognize that there are two other candidates on tomorrow's ballot, but given the tragic death of Paul Wellstone and the late entry into the race of his replacement, it's important for voters to have at least one chance to hear the two leading candidates directly debate the issues.
EICHTEN: First question is for Mr. Coleman. What is this election actually about? Is it proper to characterize this as a contest of energy versus experience, past versus future, youth versus age?
NORM COLEMAN, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: Gary, this election is about Minnesota's future. It's not about Vice President Mondale's age, it's not about my age. It's about the age in which we live, and then how do we meet the challenges of it. There are some tough times in Minnesota, people worried about jobs. They're worried about their economic future, folks in rural Minnesota worried about our kids being exported out of the state. People are worried -- or out of the cities, the small towns. People are worried about securities. People are worried about seniors. The Senate adjourned and seniors didn't get a prescription drug benefit in Medicare.
So the question in this -- I think for this election is folks walking to the voting booth is who is best prepared with a vision for the future, with the energy and the vitality to move that vision forward, who can build, tirelessly build, a brighter future for all of Minnesota.
EICHTEN: Mr. Mondale?
WALTER MONDALE, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: It is a question about the future, but it is a basic question as well about which future.
MONDALE: Will it be one where we're working for the people that you have just described, or will it be one where we're less committed to that? So one of the key questions in this fateful election -- and by the way, I think this election is fateful, maybe the most in recent -- in history.
And Minnesotans have a real choice here: Who do you trust to stand up to these real issues? Who will make a difference on the first day they get to the Senate? Who will be there for the people of Minnesota? I have been there. I've served this state all my life. And I am ready to serve again if the public wants me.
EICHTEN: Well, Mr. Mondale -- oh, go ahead.
COLEMAN: I wanted to say, if you -- I think we agree about what the election's about. But if you look at the experience, I was mayor of the capital city for the last eight years. We grew 18,000 jobs, and we didn't raise taxes over eight years. We improved the quality of education. We worked in a bipartisan way.
COLEMAN: I was a Republican mayor in a Democratic city, and we figured out a way to get together.
We've got to change the tone in Washington. The Senate adjourned, and there's no prescription drug benefit bill, there's no energy bill, there's no budget. And so we can't go back to the kind of partisan divides. I really believe, if you look at the experience that I've had in the last eight years, that is what I think all of Minnesota would want today -- figure out a way to get it together, bring (INAUDIBLE) and do it, as we did with jobs, as we did with education, as we did with keeping a lid on taxes.
MONDALE: I don't think we do agree on the future. On the Social Security drug bill that you're talking about, you're supporting the drug industry's bill; I'm supporting the inclusion of pharmaceuticals under Medicare. That's what senior citizens want.
You're supporting the governor's -- I mean, the president's tax cut bill that gives 40 percent of all the relief to the 1 percent richest in America. I would like to take that money and give it in the form of a payroll tax. Those are big differences.
You have called for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife.
You have a campaign here that is a poster child for what is wrong in politics. You've taken not thousands, but millions of dollars from the special interests, from the Enrons, the World-dot-Com (ph). You have walked the line. And I can be independent. I owe no one. I can go to Washington.
So it's not just about the future, it's where that future is going to go. I represent the people. I think your campaign has been entirely different, I think.
COLEMAN: I certainly need an opportunity to...
EICHTEN: This may be the one question for an hour debate, by the way.
MAJORS: Gary and I may be superfluous here. You guys go ahead and ignore us.
COLEMAN: First, when it comes to prescription drugs, what I support, Mr. Vice President, is getting it done. There are seniors today who are still sitting at the kitchen tables, and they got to make a choice between food and prescription drugs. The House passed a bill. There was a tripartisan bill there. And the fact is that the Senate didn't get it done.
It may not be a perfect bill, but the reality is, seniors want it now. The Senate adjourned and seniors again are left with empty promises. That's the difference, the difference about standing there and advocating for all, and seniors getting nothing or seniors getting something.
COLEMAN: And so, I'm always focused on getting it done.
And, Mr. Vice President, let me say very, very, very respectfully, when we talk about special interest and support from corporate America, that's been your world. That's the world in which you've lived. That's the world for the last eight years, serving on boards of Cargill...
MAJORS: You've had a minute there, so let me...
Mr. Mondale, a first question to you.
MAJORS: Well, I'm going to lead you into that direction. And that is, is there a dichotomy between Paul Wellstone's values in life and your experiences over the last 20 years as a corporate attorney and a member of several corporate boards?
MONDALE: I think that Paul and I share so much together, the commitment for social justice, the ability to speak independently. And let me go back to this question. The problem with your drug bill is what the pharmaceutical companies want, you want to get it done. Senior citizens need it covered under Medicare so they can count on it. This is typical of the divisions that we have.
And I know how to work with the Senate. When I was in the Senate, we accomplished a lot. I understand the need for bipartisanship. But your bill lacks support through the Senate; 51 senators are for this superior bill. And it's a good example of what divides us. My bill is good for senior citizens. You said, "Get it done." I don't think your bill should get done. I think we should do something that seniors can count on.
Same thing about Social Security itself. You support these -- privatization, these separate accounts that puts Social Security money in the stock market. We all know what's happened to the stock market the last couple of years and the pension funds and so on. That idea is wrong. I disagree with it. So there are differences that are fundamental between you and me about where we take this country.
COLEMAN: I would respond to the question that Paul raised, and I'll get back to responding to the vice president.
The fact is, the vice president has served on the board of Cargill, served on board of Northwest Airlines and served on the board of CNA Insurance Agency, and that's not Paul Wellstone.
There's certainly a very clear difference, just in terms of experience. So when the vice president talks about special interests -- special interests, I think it would be fair to say that in your experience over the last eight years, that's been your universe.
Let me though also respond -- I just -- If I could finish on prescription drugs, I think it's important. It's not necessarily my bill. Collin Peterson, a Democrat, represents southwest Minnesota, he supported that bill. Gil Gutknecht supported that bill. Jim Ramstad supported that bill. And most important, certainly as the vice president understands, to get it done, to get it done, you need the House, ultimately you need the Senate, and then you need the president.
And we could fight -- we could fight endlessly over partisan politics. We could fight endlessly over what we think is the perfect solution, but I think you've got to move it forward. And I think if U.S. seniors who are sitting out there and listening today -- would you rather have something today, something supported in a bipartisan way by folks -- by folks like Collin Peterson, something that the president would sign? Because if the president doesn't sign it, then we're stuck in gridlock.
I really believe we got to change that tone in Washington, move away from the strict partisan divides, find a way to cross the aisle. That was my experience in St. Paul, and that's the experience that I'll bring to Washington.
MAJORS: Well, I'm not a lion tamer, but I'm going to hand it over to Gary.
EICHTEN: Well, let's change gears just a tad here. Judicial nominations, and I believe the next question would go to Mr. Coleman here. Walter Mondale has said that he would absolutely not support any judicial candidate proposed by the president if that candidate opposed abortion rights. You've taken a different position. Why?
COLEMAN: My position is different from the vice president's. My position is that we shouldn't have litmus tests on judicial appointments. My position is that we've got -- this is another example of that kind of positive divide that's hurting the country. I believe the president had 83 judicial nominees in the courts of appeal that have not been confirmed. If judges aren't out there -- and I speak, by the way, as a former solicitor general of the state of Minnesota, I understand that justice delayed is justice denied. Those appointments should be had, and it should be based on competency.
There are ways to judge who's competent. I would apply the same standard in exercising my responsibility as a United States Senator, I would apply the same standard to a nominee of a Democratic president as I would a Republican president, and I think that's what you've got to do. You rate folks -- are they qualified? Are they prepared to interpret the Constitution as it is written?
My only -- it's not a litmus test, but the qualifier would be, I would not be supporting folks going there saying they are judicial activists and are going to do what they say regardless of the Constitution. But I think it's wrong to have litmus tests in these regards. I think that the president has that authority.
If they're qualified, we confirm. And you should have the same standard for a Republican president as you should for a Democratic president.
EICHTEN: Mr. Mondale?
MONDALE: Yes, this is another example of what divides us. I believe in choice. I think these issues should be decided by the women and the family. You do not. You're opposed to it. The Constitution is on my side.
What's at stake here are two things: They have nominated judges who have had bad records on civil rights. I will oppose those nominees. They should not be on the bench. The Senate is an equal body and has the right to consult under the Constitution.
On the question of choice, I believe this is so fundamental, it's in the Constitution, that when we confirm judges it should be on that basis. If you look at my time in the Senate, I voted to confirm most of the judges that were sent there by Republican presidents. But this administration has a right-wing bias that you support that sends up judges that shouldn't be on the bench.
And incidentally, this Senate has confirmed more judges than your Republicans did under the previous -- what you're trying to do is slide around some very fundamental questions about the future of this country and its most sacred values of justice. I'm on the side of judges that can be fair, that can deal with justice in the real sense. You are taking a position that undermines it.
COLEMAN: The difference here is that the vice president goes back and said, "The Republicans did this, and now we're Democrats and we're going to do this." And I keep saying, "Change the tone."
I'm not going to say because one side did it, now we should do it. It never stops. That's not what you do. What you do is you bring...
MONDALE: What you're doing...
MONDALE: Let me finish. Let me. What you're doing is sticking with the right wing and pretending to change the tone. It's not the fluff of what kind of word you say...
MONDALE: And, Norm, we know you. We've seen you. We've seen you shift around. We know about all this. And now you're in this location. And you have to take responsibility for the position you're taking.
COLEMAN: Again, this is the tone that you don't want to see in Washington. This is the tone that has resulted in where we're at today, where we don't have an energy bill. We don't even have a budget. We don't have a prescription drug bill. We don't have disaster assistance for northwest Minnesota. Because it's this tone, talking about the -- Vice President Mondale, the people of Minnesota do know me.
The people of St. Paul know me. I governed St. Paul for eight years. I was a Republican mayor in a Democratic city, and we worked together and we got things done. That's my record. We didn't raise taxes in eight years. We grew 18,000 jobs. We got the first AAA bond rate in the history of the city. We brought back the National Hockey League. We did things and we got it done, without the kind of tone that you're reflecting here.
And let me just finish on the judicial appointment's question, and I'll use Judge Pickering, one of the president's nominees, who is supported by the Democratic Attorney General Moore of his state, who is supported by the Democratic-elected officials of his state, who is supported by the local NAACP of the city in which he lived. But because of the same tone that the vice president is expressing here and is defending here and the characterizations of right and left, in the end, you had a man supported by those who knew him, who were Democrats in a bipartisan way, supported by the Bar Association, and it didn't get through. And we've got to change that tone in Washington. It's not good for America, and it's certainly not good for Minnesota.
MAJORS: Mr. Mondale, I'll give you a minute to respond. MONDALE: This is not...
EICHTEN: Hold the applause. Just a reminder: The agreement is no applause till the end of the debate, please.
MONDALE: This is not about tone. I have always been for civil debate. In the Senate, I have always tried to reach across boundaries. This is about fundamental principles and not tone.
The candidate you talk about had a very suspect record on civil rights. Why take a chance with somebody who would play games with something as fundamental as that?
Several of these nominees have had bad records on choice. This is not a tone question. This goes to the fundamentals of American democracy.
You talk about what you did as mayor. Employment went up. That's great. But employment went up in every city in the country because the economy was better than it's ever been before.
Your troubled about the fact that I've served on corporate boards. That's really charming to hear a Republican worry about a Democrat...
... who knows something about business. I think it's good that a senator goes down there and knows both the cause of social justice and how it works in the private community.
You worry about my membership on Northwest Airlines Board. It's the largest employer in Minnesota. It has added jobs, including Duluth, including Chism (ph) since I've been there, and that is true of the other corporations. I don't apologize for that. And I don't believe you're really worried about. I think you're just trying to make an issue.
COLEMAN: Mr. Vice President, I'm not worried about it. But what the trouble is, on the one hand, you should be proud of that. But you can't talking...
MONDALE: I just said I'm proud it.
COLEMAN: But you can't be talking about special interests. You can't be playing the class warfare card when you're there with United HealthCare, the largest HMO in the state; great companies. You should applaud that, but please, don't step back and start talking about special interest.
Let me also -- you raised the question about abortion. Even on that issue, Mr. Vice President, you think there's common ground to be found? You think, for instance, most Minnesotans would believe that partial birth abortion is a wrong thing, and even if we have different positions on that issue, we can find common ground? Don't you think that on the -- the idea that parents should have a right to know in that situation?
I have a 12-year-old girl. She had her ears pierced a couple of weeks ago, and they called me.
Don't you think even on that difficult issue, that we should find common ground? I do. I do.
MONDALE: But you're not finding common ground, Norm. You're standing with the right-to-life crowd opposing judges who will find common ground.
This not a question about political compromise, this is a question about fundamental Constitutional principle, and you're on the wrong side of that issue. So don't talk...
COLEMAN: But are you willing to find common ground, Mr. Vice President? On the issue of partial birth abortion, would you agree that that's...
MONDALE: I'm opposed to late-term abortion, but I also know that the Constitution says that you must protect the life and the health of the mother...
COLEMAN: So do you believe parents should be involved in those decisions, Mr. Vice President?
MONDALE: They should be involved, but it's their choice, and it's not a legal question.
You have been an arbitrary right-to-lifer. I am not, and that's one of the big, many issues that divide us ...
COLEMAN: Let me just...
MONDALE: And it's not tone...
COLEMAN: Let me just finish off on that issue, if I may, Mr. Vice President. And I would take exception, I'll use a kind word, to the description of an arbitrary.
My wife and I have had two children who were born, first son and the last daughter. They died at very young ages. I have a deep and profound respect for the value of life; it's not arbitrary.
But even on that issue, I think we can and should look to find common ground, but please, don't describe it as arbitrary.
MONDALE: I say that I respect you. I am sorry about the tragedy in your family. I know that life should be sacred.
But where we don't agree is your idea that we should go in and prohibit, through Constitutional changes, the freedom of choice that people have. That is wrong. I disagree with it.
EICHTEN: Paul, you're up next.
MAJORS: Gary and I would like you guys for letting us eavesdrop up here.
EICHTEN (?): It's a great conversation.
MAJORS (?): It is, I'm enjoying myself. Just missing the cup of coffee, actually.
EICHTEN: Mr. Coleman, we'll start with you. Just yesterday, the president was in town in St. Paul at the Excel Energy Center, and he gave a number of reasons why he needs you in Washington. You've been described as being hand-picked by the White House for this candidacy. As a senator, how would you be different than the president, and do you disagree with the president in any areas?
COLEMAN: Gary, as a senator, I will represent Minnesota. As a mayor, I represented St. Paul, and what I looked at was the best interest of the people. I think -- I will start by saying, I think it's a very good thing to have a relationship with the president of the United States. There was a farm bill that was just passed. Secretary of agriculture is supposed to be a year, to talk about dairy policy. We've lost half the folks farming dairy in the last 10 years. We still have a God-awful federal pricing system that's killing Minnesota dairy producers.
It would be kind of nice for a senator from Minnesota to have a relationship with the president and the secretary of agriculture. The same is true in commerce, the same is true in labor and a range of areas.
On the other hand, in those areas where I disagree with the president, you've got to be your own man. I do, I disagree with the president over trade with Cuba. I believe in trade. I think it's a good thing. The president has a perspective on that that I simply disagree with.
And I will tell the president, "Mr. President, I think you're wrong." And I'll have that conversation with him. I disagree with the president over drilling for oil in Alaska, and that we have an opportunity now, our oil fields are sow, bio- diesel, are ethanol. And I've looked in the eyes of the farmers in southwest Minnesota, I've traveled the state over the last two years, visiting with, listening to those farmers, and they tell me we don't have the seven years it's going to take to get a drop of oil out of ANWR, we've got to do it now. As the result of listening to those farmers, I'll tell the president, "Mr. President, I think that's wrong."
And so in the end, what's good for Minnesota will guide me, but I am not apologetic for having the opportunity to have a conversation with the president, to have the support of the president, and then be able to work with his administration to deliver for Minnesota.
Last point, some people say, "But you're going to owe the president if you get there." I win on Tuesday, the president's going to owe me big time, OK? This is not an easy task. We walked through fire to get here. The vice president understands that, he's been involved in this process. I get through this, the people of Minnesota put me in office, the good Lord willing, I will go to the president and it will be clear, we have walked through fire, but I will deliver for the people who I represent, as I always have in my public career.
EICHTEN Mr. Mondale?
MONDALE: I believe the issue is independence on all the great issues that affect our future -- support for education, making Social Security permanent, changing that dreadful tax cut that gave all the money to the wealthy. There's a whole range of issues where we disagree. And the question that Minnesotans have to ask is, who really would go to Washington and be independent and fight for them.
People know me. They know you. I've served this state all my life. They also know that I would go to Washington as an independent representative of our people. You have taken huge amounts of special interest money in this campaign, and every position you've taken on the central questions have lined up right with them.
How can we, in the midst of a declining economy, where we've had example after example of corporate executives cheating and putting the money in their own pocket and setting aside pension funds and jobs, why don't we stand up there and insist that that enforcement board demand clear and solid rules that prevent this kind of thing? I'm for that. I insist on it. And I think we need policies that put people back to work. And these are real differences that bear on our future. COLEMAN: Certainly, as a former prosecutor, I understand what it is to prosecute bad guys, whether they're wearing suits and ties or whether they have masks over their heads, and I'll be very vigorous in that regard.
But, Mr. Vice President, let me ask you the question, in terms of being independent, what's good for Minnesota, we have a terrorism insurance bill that's being hung up in the United States Senate. As a result of that -- the lack of terrorism insurance bill would mean that if we were to try to build the Mall of America today in Minnesota, or the Excel (ph) energy center (INAUDIBLE) the projects that I've been associated with, we probably couldn't get it done. The hard hats are sitting there, and they're not able to work because we cannot get this bill through.
COLEMAN: And the reason we can't get it through is because the trial lawyers -- the trial lawyers want to insist on a punitive damage provision that would hold the owners of buildings potentially liable for punitive damages that are damaged as a result of terrorism.
Will you stand against the trial lawyers and stand with the hard hats to support getting that terrorism insurance bill through?
MONDALE: I will work to resolve that issue. I will work to pass the homeland defense measure. I have worked in security and defense, international relations and the rest all of my life.
And the problem that I was talking about, which is this corporate greed that's really hurting this nation because people don't trust them. They don't know whether to believe what they're reading in these corporate statements.
That bill passed because we had an independent Senate that shaped it. And that makes a big difference. But even there, your administration is lousing up the enforcement program and shaking confidence.
You may have prosecuted a person or two. That has to be done. We've all done that. But this is a question of our future and whether the rules and the laws prohibit this kind of greed that has so assaulted the future of our country.
And you know that I would be there. We do not know where you will be.
COLEMAN: Will you challenge -- I understand you, Mr. Vice President -- challenge the trial lawyers to get a terrorism insurance bill through?
MONDALE: I will do what I have to do to respond to the needs of America. There are times when we need good lawyers on the other side. I am not a plaintiff's lawyer, and I will work that out at the time.
MAJORS: Let's move on here.
Mr. Mondale, and you alluded to this, homeland security...
MAJORS: ... stalled in the Senate, concerns about collective bargaining.
As a former vice president, how much power should the executive branch, how much flexibility should it have over federal employees? MONDALE: The terrorists are a real threat. They're up and on their feet. We have to take this very seriously. We need a homeland security bill, and it should have passed already.
One of the things I can do because I've been in the Senate -- I know the Senate, I was the president of Senate -- when I go back, I will be, if the public wants me there, I will be in the leadership at the first moment and be able to work on it. That's one of the first things we must do.
But the administration must bend, too. What is wrong with allowing these employees to have civil service protection? I don't see any problem with that. And why shouldn't employees have some rights?
In other words, this is not just saying, "yes," to everything the president wants. This is working out compromises that make a difference for our future.
COLEMAN: Mr. Vice President, the issue here is an issue that's been around for a long time. It's an authority that Jimmy Carter exercised many, many times.
And the reality is, what's before the Senate right now is a provision that is sponsored by the union bosses in Washington who don't want to give the president the same authority that the president had just when they developed that Transportation Security Agency -- the same authority that the president has in every other agency of the federal government -- the authority that Jimmy Carter had, the authority that Ronald Reagan, the authority that Bill Clinton had. And that is, in times of national security -- in concerns about national security, that the president has the ability to hire, to move people -- to do those things, again, in every other agency in government.
So the question is, will you separate yourself from those folks who are looking at an interest that would take away the authority has in every other agency, when you and I both agree that terrorism is real, that security threats are real?
And one of the examples was, in the customs area, where the administration wanted customs officials to wear a device that would be able to detect whether nuclear materials are being imported in, and the union wanted to subject that to collective bargaining.
Don't you think, under those circumstances, that the administration can say, "Hey, we have a national security concern, and we're simply going to do this"? And the bill is being held up, because folks do not want to give that authority to the president in perhaps one of the most important agencies of government, homeland security.
MONDALE: There is a bipartisan bill that would have passed, but the administration refused to go along with it because it extended civil service protection to the employees. Why can't they bend a little bit ...
COLEMAN: The question ...
MONDALE: No, I'm asking questions now. Why do you take this hard line that would undermine the protection that employees should have and need?
Don't worry about me and terrorism. I am opposed to it, and I've helped fight it for years. What we need is balance here, and what we're spelling out here is our different view of the future.
COLEMAN: Let me if I may just then ask one -- would you agree that this president should have the same authority with homeland security that Jimmy Carter had with every agency in the federal government?
COLEMAN: Do you agree with that?
MONDALE: Yes, and I also agree that there should be civil service protection, and I believe these employees should have rights. Do you agree with that?
COLEMAN: Absolutely, and the issue ...
MONDALE: Why are you opposing the compromise then?
COLEMAN: No, there isn't opposing a compromise. You have folks in your party, Mr. Vice President, who are saying that the president shouldn't have the same authority Jimmy Carter had?
MONDALE: No, no.
COLEMAN: You have folks in your party saying the president shouldn't have the same authority that he would have in every other agency of government. We really should compromise, and I'll work on that.
MONDALE: No. There is a compromise bill that should pass, that I'm for and you're against.
EICHTEN (?): We want to get to some questions from the audience, but we haven't even talked about war and peace, so I'm going to put this question to you folks, since -- Mr. Mondale, you said if you had been in the Senate, you would have voted against the resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq and urged instead that the U.S. work with the U.N.
The U.S. is working with the U.N. If the U.N. doesn't do anything, what should the U.S. do?
MONDALE: Of course we have to reserve the right, if necessary, to go back and form an alliance, an allegiance with allies around the world to make certain that Saddam Hussein is constrained. That's not the problem right now. The problem was that at the start all we heard about was regime change, about going it our way, and in fact the vice president of the United States gave a speech in which he said: Don't worry about inspections, the U.N. won't do a good job, we don't have to go to the U.N.
And my opinion is, based on years of experience, that you must have a policy in which we work with the world. That's what the president's father did, that's what we need to do now. We need to insist on U.N. inspections. We need to get U.N. Security Council approval and demand that those weapons be eliminated. And we have to do what we haven't done a good job of doing, and that is reach out to the world and get our friends and our allies.
It's in a situation today where people are getting elected by running against America, and these are friends, they're not enemies. We have to get a better tone to our approach. And I think within this administration there are people that agree with me. I think Colin Powell agrees with me. But there's hawks around there that keep making these bellicose statements that I think undermines our credibility in the world.
EICHTEN (?): Mr. Coleman?
COLEMAN: Got two observations. First, I'm pleased that the vice president and I agree that we need to reserve the authority to do what needs to be done to project America's security. And the issue really is then: What's the best way to get that broad multilateral coalition?
And the reality is that 77 senators -- 77 senators, broad bipartisan on both sides of the aisle, said the way to do that is to come together as Americans to show our resolve and then put us in a position that we're in now, which is we have some strength in working with the U.N. And the president is doing everything that the vice president has talked about.
And had we taken the other approach, had we taken the other approach, we would be negotiating from weakness. The world community would say the U.S. can't come together, Congress can't come together. What incentive do you think there would be at that time for folks to work with us? None.
Mr. Vice President, again, I would respectfully say, negotiating from weakness in these issues is not the way to get it done. It was not the way to get it done in Ronald Reagan's time, it's not the way to get it done.
And I would also say, and I think it's a little unfair, I do also know Colin Powell, and I have never heard Colin Powell say what you said, Mr. Vice President, ever.
MONDALE: Then you haven't been listening.
He said several times exactly what I've said. Moreover, your vice president gave a speech exactly contrary to your position or what I thought I heard you say, in which he said, "The U.N. is useless; the inspection system is not worth it." We were telling the world we're going to go on our own. That is not strength, Norman. That's weakness. We're strong when we have the world with us. We're strong when we approach the world as partners.
I've had some experience in diplomacy. And I can tell you, even America needs friends. And if we can get the Security Council behind us, we are stronger, not weaker. And when we present ourself against this monster, Saddam Hussein, we can squeeze him better.
I'll give the administration credit for this: In North Korea, which is actually more dangerous than Iraq because they may have nuclear weapons now, which Iraq does not have, the administration is doing what I'm talking about, they are negotiating. And Japan, South Korea, China and Russia are all in there squeezing North Korea. That's not weakness. That's strength.
COLEMAN: And Joe Biden...
EICHTEN (?): Ten seconds.
COLEMAN: ... and Joe Lieberman and Tom Daschle, ultimately -- and Dick Gephardt -- all disagreed with your assessment, Mr. Vice President, about how to deal with the U.N.
What the president is saying very clearly is, we will work with the U.N. They have to show us that they're willing to uphold their resolutions. But we are doing it in a united way -- 77 senators agreed -- broad bipartisan way, that's the way to go. Not to be weak, not to step back and say, "Let Kofi Annan and the Security Council decide how to deal with Saddam Hussein."
MAJORS: We'll move on. An actual question from the audience, an anonymous question.
Mr. Coleman, what can we do to try to keep our young people from leaving Minnesota's rural areas? COLEMAN: We got to make sure that there's a reason for them to get back. When I got elected mayor of St. Paul, kids were leaving St. Paul. We've lost our largest employer, West Publishing. There were bad economic times.
Parents decide whether to stay in a community, one, whether there are jobs, economic opportunity; two, whether there's good quality education; and three, whether it's safe. And those are issues, Paul, in which I have worked time and again.
I have visited throughout rural Minnesota. I have talked to the neighbors. I've talked to the farmers. I've talked to the important people, the local elected officials, the Glenn Gus (ph), the mayor of Luverne, who runs the grocery store in that town.
What they need is jobs and economic development, economic opportunity. I understand how to do that. You do not do it by raising taxes. I've never met a small business person or farmer in rural Minnesota say that, "You're going to grow my economy, grow the jobs by raising taxes." That has been the vice president's approach in the past. I think you do it, then, by doing those things that promote economic growth and opportunity, those things that then promote quality education and those things that promote public safety. In each of those areas, I have a record over the last eight years of accomplishing things.
COLEMAN: If we can do it in St. Paul, we can do it in the rest of Minnesota.
MONDALE: We need many things. We need good farm programs, and I have been a champion of that. We need disaster relief for western Minnesota, and it would be helpful if we could get some help out of the House on that. We need to really develop new business and growth in this state, and we need someone who's worked around the state and knows it.
On the issue of taxes, once again, it's the difference between our vision. Who gets the tax relief? In your bill, most of it goes to the wealthy. That does not help business. In fact, since it was adopted, the American economy has gone down. We've added 2 million unemployed in America, and Americans are concerned.
We need to have a policy where this relief -- we need tax cuts -- but where this relief goes to middle and moderate income. That's not what you're for. In fact, am I not correct that you have proposed that we repeal the alternative minimum tax that would leave many corporations tax-free and would you tell us about that?
COLEMAN: Two observations, first, things had gone downhill in this economy before the president got elected. They really went downhill when Jim Jeffords switched parties, from that point on. And the result of that, Mr. Vice President, is that same disaster relief assistance that you're talking about didn't get through the United States Senate.
MONDALE: It's passed twice through the United States Senate.
COLEMAN: It has not gone through ...
MONDALE: It has -- twice.
COLEMAN: ... a final bill. The bill -- the provision, Mr. Vice President, was contained in the interior appropriations bill, and the interior appropriations bill never got through. So they never got to conference committee, and in order to get it done -- I certainly don't want to lecture you on Senate rule ...
MONDALE: No, I can see that.
COLEMAN: ... but Mr. Vice President, a little bit about the facts in this regard. It didn't get through the Senate interior appropriations bill.
MAJORS (?): Let's not bog down on that. COLEMAN: Let me also -- we have a fundamental difference on the issue of taxes.
MONDALE: Let me finish my point ...
COLEMAN: Mr. Vice President, I think....
MAJORS (?): Ten seconds...
COLEMAN: You know something, I'll defer to the Vice President.
MONDALE: Take your time.
COLEMAN: Just two observations. You don't grow jobs, you don't grow the economy, by raising taxes. The vice president thought that in 1984; he was wrong. He proposes now again what he calls rolling back some of the tax cut -- that's raising taxes; 1.7 million Minnesota families received rebates as a result of this tax bill, and that's a good thing for Minnesota.
MAJORS (?): OK, and a quick comment?
MONDALE: Most of the tax relief goes to that one percent of the wealthiest in the bill that you want. If we'd given that tax relief instead to middle and moderate income Americans, most Minnesotans would have gotten real relief. You talk about my proposal for tax increase in '84.
MONDALE: You know, right after the election, they raised taxes. I was the one who told the truth before the election. And I think that's one of the big things that Minnesotans have to look at: Who's got the courage to stand up and level with the people even when it's difficult? It wasn't an issue with tax increases, we had to do it. We had deficits of $300 billion. And we had to take care of...
COLEMAN: And, Mr. Vice President, I didn't raise taxes for eight years. It depends on your approach. If you believe that you start off with the willingness to raise taxes, there will be no end. We took a very different approach in St. Paul.
MONDALE: I'm talking about cutting taxes.
EICHTEN (?): All right. Let's move on here. Another question from the audience. And this goes to Mr. Mondale.
"You authored many of the welfare laws that were changed in 1996. Do you believe that those reforms are taking us in the right direction?"
MONDALE: Those reforms, with economic growth, and with efforts by state and local government to give help to these people that are transitioning from welfare to work, do make sense, and I support that.
One of the problems right now is that the economy is slipping and there may not be jobs for these persons. And secondly, there's a lot of things that people at the margins need in terms of day care, in terms of education, in terms of assistance. And together with economic growth, that makes the difference.
What I'm fearful of, and what I think is the case, that both of those things are missing now. The economy is slipping, and this administration shows no interest at all in stepping forward and trying to do something fundamental to help these people.
EICHTEN (?): Mr. Coleman?
COLEMAN: I am very pleased that the vice president agrees that welfare reform has been a good thing. This is really an example where you need new ideas and new thinking. The vice president was at the heart of developing a system that in the end was I think well intentioned, we wanted to do care of the least amongst us, but the results were really very disastrous. We created generations of dependency. It was a well-intentioned idea, it was an old idea; it didn't work well, and we had to change it, and we chanted it in '96.
And we then kind of lifted the importance of work. The best welfare program is a job, and the best housing program is a job, and we made those changes. And I agree that we need to continue to push that forward, so we move from requiring able-bodied folks on welfare, rather than working 30 hours a week, I think it's appropriate, I think it's the right thing to have them work 40 hours as a week. As we do that, we make sure that there's a safety net. As we do that, we make sure that there's flexibility at the state level.
And here is an area where I disagree with the president. In Minnesota, in fact, we have some greater flexibility. I would work very strongly to maintain that flexibility, even if it was opposed by the administration.
But welfare was a good idea when the vice president originally worked on it a long time ago, but it needs to change, and we've changed it in a very, very positive way. We should continue down that path.
MONDALE: But certain things don't change, and that is, one thing is a concern for people that are vulnerable, that need help. And that's what needs to be continued. The welfare reform has gone through, but that continuing concern, the thing that Paul Wellstone in his career so brilliantly, we can't have that voice missing. You know with me that we will hear about people and their real concerns, including the people who are not heard.
Your idea shows how we differ. You want to add 10 more hours of work to people who are already nearing unemployment, who are having difficulty making that transition. I think it's going in the wrong direction.
COLEMAN: I think the difference is -- we agree on the concern. I was the mayor of an urban center. It wasn't a rich suburban community. I live in a poor city. And I worked for the good of all those in that city. The difference, Mr. Vice President, is how you get there. Do you do it by trying to give work opportunity or do you do it by a system that provided for generations of dependency?
MAJORS (?): Next question from the audience. This is from Laura (ph).
Mr. Coleman, this goes to you. "I am a stay-at-home mother, expecting my third child within weeks. I'm concerned about the level of taxation. Do you support the repeal of the marriage penalty tax?"
COLEMAN: The answer to that is no. And I presume this is one of those differences, just fundamental differences on our views on taxation.
In St. Paul, we created more job opportunity because we kept lids on taxes. For single moms, they have an opportunity in this tax bill, by the way, which raised the level of support for kids, the per-child tax credit. That's a good thing, that's a good thing.
COLEMAN: Taxes, when we raise taxes, or we take away these dollars out of the pockets of parents and put them into government programs, we hurt both the individual, which is my first concern, and then we hurt the economy.
When people spend money out of their pocket, they buy a good or service, the person producing that good or service has a job. I'd like that mom to have an opportunity to work. I'd also like her to have an opportunity to take care of her kids, and I certainly would not support the repeal of that particular provision.
MONDALE: The reality is that what you support is this tax cut that's all tilted to the wealthy. If we can swing that around and get tax relief to the average American worker, that would be real relief, real help. It would produce real jobs, and if we could build some trust in America where we could again believe in corporate reports, where we could trust ourselves to invest in the market or to, in other ways, get the private economy going, that's the way to help these people.
But that's not what's happening now, and we need an independent voice in Washington, in the United States Senate, who knows what he's doing, to make these points in a solid, courageous way.
COLEMAN: I take it, Mr. Vice President, you will not support rolling back the $1000 per person child tax credit?
MONDALE: Oh, no. Maybe we should increase it.
MAJORS (?): Mr. Mondale, this is for you. This is from Peggy (ph). "As a businesswoman in southern Minnesota, I'm concerned about technology reaching our businesses and our homes. What is your vision for keeping all of Minnesota on the cutting edge of technology?"
MONDALE: Growing economy, leadership that builds trust. I think right now there should be a reduction in the interest rates. I think that we need to support education that produces economic growth. This is maybe where we disagree. We made a promise that in addition to putting a burden on the schools with new testing that we would provide economic assistance for these schools, elementary and secondary and high school, that would allow them to educate these kids for the future. That has not been done, nor have we brought new help to students.
We need to do that. We have several wonderful educational institutions in our state university system and in the community college systems, and in other systems, that help preen young people to get ready for this technology and get ready for the future. That's our future, and that's where, I think, our support must be.
MAJORS (?): Mr. Mondale, how do you get that technology out there.
COLEMAN: It is ...
MAJORS (?): Mr. Coleman, rather.
COLEMAN: Technology is the great equalizer in rural Minnesota.
It really is. You can live anywhere, live where your family is, live where you love the quality of life, live where you feel safe and secure. And technology is the great equalizer.
And what we have to do is have to make a firm commitment to make sure that all of Minnesota is wired, and going beyond wired now, now we're talking about wireless. I had an opportunity to visit with the folks over at Minnesota Wireless in Mankato (ph). Wonderful cutting- edge operation, a tentative conference on technology about six months ago, in that same area.
It is our future. We should be wiring the schools and let the businesses draw off a that so they can afford to create the public- private partnership that expands the use of technology. We should be looking at opportunities to expand wireless.
I'm a former mayor. I understand about infrastructure. Part of infrastructure is roads and highways, (INAUDIBLE) but another part of infrastructure is the wireless infrastructure. It's linking all of Minnesota through technology. I will be a champion of 21st Century thinking when it comes to making sure that all of Minnesota is wired.
MONDALE: And it requires real, resource support for our schools. That's where we're different. We promised that we would really help local schools -- public schools -- to get what they needed.
That hasn't been done. I intend to do it. We should be helping our college students. In other words, if we want technology, if we want to be out ahead, we have to begin with making our schools work. We've heaped advice on our schools. We've got one idea or another about our schools.
But what our schools need is help. We're laying of teachers. Classroom size is growing. Kids are being charged fees for playing basketball or in the band or something like that. Those schools need help.
And if you're really interested in our future and building the potential in rural Minnesota and everywhere, we must increase support for those institutions. Not just advice, but support.
COLEMAN: And can I just respond to that issue? You're absolutely right. We do, and I've done it, Mr. Vice President. I did it -- in St. Paul, we did it, and in St. Paul, we did it not by a partisan divide, not by one side fighting against the next. We joined together, myself, the superintendent, the business community. We passed an increase in the levy referendum.
At the same time, we did it with getting guarantees of accountability, and that's what you need to do. Make sure that the resource is there, but at the same time, make sure that kids are learning, make sure that moms and dads have a right to know whether their kids are learning. So I think we're there for the resources.
What I would add is something you haven't talked about, and that's accountability so that moms and dads know that they're kids are learning.
EICHTEN: We only have about four minutes left before closing statements, so we have to move along here. And I wanted to get at least one Internet question in. And this is from a fellow in North Branch, who asks: "The affordable housing crisis has been growing since the 1986 tax bill was passed, reducing investment in housing."
"What would you do to make housing affordable once again?" Mr. Coleman?
COLEMAN: Again, this is an area where my recent relevant experience has showed that you can get some things done. I believe according to the last census, state of St. Paul, who's one of the leaders in the nations, in terms of the numbers and percentages of affordable. And we did it, by the way, by focusing not just on affordable, but on all housing. And this is an area when the tide rose, all ships rose, including the area of affordable housing in St. Paul. We had a policy of any housing that we did -- that the city did, 20 percent would be affordable. And massive increased in our affordable housing.
One, the tax change in '86 was bad for investment, and you got to deal with that. But one of the things that I did in St. Paul is, I cut in half the cost that government imposed on building housing so that would hopefully generate more investment. I think we need to do those things that generate investment. I think we need to do those things, by the way, that grow the economy. Don't raise taxes, encourage investment. When you grow the economy, as we did in St. Paul, you grow the opportunity for housing. As we did in St. Paul, you grow affordable housing, as we did in St. Paul. And I think you're moving in the right direction .
EICHTEN: Mr. Mondale, affordable housing?
MONDALE: The biggest danger to housing is the possibility of rising deficits that drive up interest rates. A few years ago, we were estimating that the federal budget would be in surplus by $5 trillion over 10 years. Over the last two years, we've gone into deficit. We are now looking at huge yawning (ph) deficits in the out- years. We are using money that was raised for the Social Security recipients under the payroll tax, in effect, to finance this big tax cuts for the rich, that Norm is all for.
If we really want to create an environment where housing will be there for our people, where it will grow, we've got to have a national economic environment that permits your tax cut, that you're talking about, instead of giving it to the average American, undermines that long-term prospect.
COLEMAN: We've each dealt with these issues. I did it in St. Paul. We didn't raise taxes for eight years. We grew 18,000 jobs. The vice president governed. During the period of time in which he governed, as a result of the policies that he pursued, what we had was, we had a 24 percent interest rate. We had double-digit inflation. We had folks waiting on line to get gasoline.
We have each had our chance to lay out taking theory and making it reality. And the reality is that when you keep lids on taxes for all, Mr. Vice President...
MONDALE: I'm talking about a tax cut, and you've heard me say that a couple of times.
And I'd also like to say that this election is about the future. It's not about the collapse of the Shah in 1979, and it's not about Afghanistan in 1980. It's about Afghanistan and Iraq, and it's about the real world today. Let's talk about that.
MAJORS: Well, you know, we're just actually a few seconds away from closing statements, and you will each be given 90 seconds to make a closing statement. And once again, we want to remind the audience to please hold any and all applause until after we've concluded the event here.
Mr. Coleman, we will begin with you.
COLEMAN: Well, thank you Paul and Gary. And it is -- we are here under unusual circumstances. We have suffered the loss of a United States senator, and we are all saddened by that. And the reality is now that we have to go to the poll booths tomorrow. And this election is about the future. I ask the people of Minnesota to look at my record, look at the things I did as the mayor of your capital city in which we didn't raise taxes in eight years, in which we grew 18,000 jobs, and we had $3.5 billion worth of investment, in which we had the first AAA bond rating in the history of the city, in which we brought back the National Hockey League.
We got it done by working in a bipartisan way, by changing the tone in the way we operate in St. Paul. We need to do the same in Washington. This election is about the future. Who, in your judgment, has the ability to do those things to grow jobs, to provide for quality education, to make sure that we live up to the obligation to our parents, make sure that we have quality healthcare -- who will work tirelessly, who will change the tone in Washington, who will reach across the aisle a bipartisan way, as I did in St. Paul, Republican mayor in a Democratic city?
I am an optimist. We have a bright and prosperous future. The choice is very clear. The times of raising taxes and more government regulation and big government are over. There is a bright future ahead for all of Minnesota, and I will work as hard as I had over the last two years -- as hard as I have over the last eight years as mayor of St. Paul. As hard as I will over the next 24 hours. I'll work like that for you over the next six years. I ask for your vote.
MAJORS: Please, hold your applause, please.
Mr. Mondale, you have 90 seconds.
MONDALE: This may be the most fateful election in modern history. We're deciding real things, here, and this election is as close as it can be. There are big differences between our two candidacies, and I think the first question -- you've heard our views. The first question, now, that you must ask, about both of us, is who do you trust? Who do you believe will go to Washington and be a truly independent voice for Minnesota? When you make that judgment, you know a lot about me. I grew up in Minnesota. I was educated here. I spent my career representing Minnesotans and our nation.
Secondly, you have to ask, who is ready to be a truly independent representative of Minnesota? Who is free of entangling alliances and big money that allows them to represent. What do we need? That sort of person who can truly independently represent Minnesota, or something else?
Finally, it's the question of, who can get the job done? I know the Senate. I've served in the Senate. I was the president of the Senate. And under the rules, if you will re-elect me, I go into the Senate leadership on the first day.
I can make a difference from the beginning and put Minnesota at the front of the line.
EICHTEN: All right. Well, that concludes our U.S. Senate debate between Democrat Walter Mondale and Republican Norm Coleman. Now you can applaud. Gentlemen, thanks for... (APPLAUSE)
EICHTEN: ... today. This debate was presented by Minnesota Public Radio and...
EICHTEN: I'm Gary Eichten, Minnesota Public Radio, good morning from the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul.
WOODRUFF: Well, if there was any doubt that this debate would hold our attention, it did not disappoint. Former Vice President Walter Mondale debating Norman Coleman in an unprecedented last-minute debate the day before the election. This all brought about by the untimely death about 10 days ago of Paul Wellstone, the incumbent senator who was running hard, a close election -- a lose race for re- election.
And Jeff Greenfield, some very tough language coming from the former vice president. If anybody thought that he was going to sit back and sort of, you know, be mild mannered, he wasn't.
GREENFIELD: On last week's "West Wing," the president's advisers were warned that he would come out as Uncle Fluffy, you know, kind of a soft -- and if anybody was worried about that part of the Mondale performance, no. I mean, clearly, he was primed in the Minnesotan way, to raise tough questions. I think was a kind of classic debate in a place like Minnesota, unlike a New Jersey or New York debate, nobody was hurling personal implications.
But Mondale was -- but they both had their themes from the get- go. Mondale's, look, there were fundamental differences. Let's not forget this in a progressive state like Minnesota. You, Norm Coleman, are the conservative, I'm the progressive. Norm Coleman, as my republican source said he would, this is what I've done as mayor, I can make it work, I can change the partisan tone. I'm not an ideologue, I'm a doer. And we heard that each theme, I guess, a dozen or two dozen times each.
WOODRUFF: You did. And Bill, some -- again, I mean, in my estimation, some tougher, I think, than we expected, language coming from vice president. At one point, he said, "You don't want to change the tone." He said, "You want to stick with the right-wing administration and pretend to change.
BILL: That's right. Mondale's point throughout was that Norm Coleman is a dangerous right winger and he's tied to special interests. He will be the errand boy for the corporations. Coleman tried to return fire, by pointing the out that Mondale has served on a number of corporate boards, which Mondale said he was proud of, because the democrats should know something about business works.
But throughout, Mondale's point was this man is a dangerous right winger. And I must say, Coleman made a strong effort to say, me, dangerous? I'm pragmatic, I'm reasonable. We have to change the tone in Washington. He said it over and over again, "change the tone." WOODRUFF: There was an interesting exchange on the subject of abortion. I think we've got that sound that we want to play for you right now, that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONDALE: will have been an arbitrary right-to-lifer. I am not and that's one of the big many issues that divide us...
COLEMAN: Let me just...
MONDALE: ... and it's not...
COLEMAN: ... let me just finish (ph) off on that issue, if I may, Mr. Vice President. And I would take exception -- I'll use a kind word -- to the description of an arbitrary. My wife and I have had two children who were born, first son and the last daughter, they died at very young ages. I have a deep and profound respect for the value of life. It's not arbitrary. But even on that issue, I think we can and should look to find common ground but, please, don't describe it as arbitrary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: And the vice president came out of that saying, of course, I do respect you, but making the point that abortion, a woman's right to choose, is something that he wanted to remind the women voters and, frankly, the Democratic base in Minnesota that this is where he's coming from.
GREENFIELD: He was, I think, what Mondale was trying to do, over and over again, was to strip away the personally comforting or unthreatening tone of Coleman and say look beneath it to what you really support. And that's why Coleman, again and again, was saying look, I am not this ideologue. I've done it; I've worked across party lines. And he must have said 20 times, this is what I did in St. Paul, and this is what I can do for the state.
WOODRUFF: And as you said, Jeff, after you talked to someone in the Republican Party, as somebody's who's running for the mayor of the state of -- running for the Mayor of Minnesota.
SCHNEIDER: And in contrast to Coleman's claim that he was an effective mayor, Mondale said I've had experience in the Senate. I know how the Senate works. And when I step into the Senate, I'll have seniority, I'll be in the leadership of the Senate, trying to impress the voters there. He'll have some effectiveness.
WOODRUFF: I was struck that he kept -- you know, he -- Mondale, in essence, agreed -- this is about the future, but it's about which future do you want? And at one point, in a very pointed way, he looked at Norm Coleman and he used his first name. I think we also have that byte, as well, from the debate.
SCHNEIDER: Maybe not.
WOODRUFF: Maybe not.
GREENFIELD: Maybe not. But see what we do have is the...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLEMAN: You don't grow jobs, you don't grow the economy by raising taxes. The vice president fought that in 1984, and he was wrong. He proposes now again what he calls rolling back some of the tax cut that's raising taxes. 1.7 million Minnesota families received rebates, as a result of this tax bill. And that's a good thing for Minnesota.
MODERATOR: OK. And a quick comment?
MONDALE: Most of the tax relief goes to that 1 percent of the wealthiest in the bill that you want. If we'd given that tax relief, instead, to middle- and moderate-income Americans, most Minnesotans would have gotten real relief.
You talk about my proposal for tax increase in '84. You know, right after the election, they raised taxes. I was the one who told the truth before the election. And I think that's one of the big things that Minnesotans have to look at. Who's got the courage to stand up and level with the people, even when it's difficult? It wasn't an issue of tax increases, we had to do it, we had deficits of $300 billion and we had to take care of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Well, that was another classic exchange. We also, at one point, heard Mondale saying, Norman, we've seen you, we know you, we've seen you shift around. We've seen you shift positions.
SCHNEIDER: This was a case where Norm Coleman subtlety reminded viewers in Minnesota of one of Walter Mondale's most famous statements in 1984, when he said, Ronald Reagan will raise your taxes; so will I. He won't tell you; I just did.
Coleman just said, you don't grow the economy by raising taxes. He thought that in 1984. That's reminding people that Mondale wanted to raise taxes.
GREENFIELD: We are joined, I believe, from Minnesota by Anderson Cooper who actually -- Anderson, you were there while Jesse Ventura was excoriating Republicans, Democrats and us.
COOPER: It was very interesting, to say the least. Just as the debate here was getting underway, just a few blocks from here in the state capitol, Governor Jesse Ventura, an angry Governor Ventura, held a press conference in which he appointed an independent candidate as the interim senator from Minnesota.
Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSE VENTURA (D), MINNESOTA: My appointee is a person of the highest integrity, has a keen sense of what is in the best interests of ordinary Minnesotans, and will put the people's interests before the party's interests.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the interim United States senator from Minnesota, Independence Party member Dean Barkley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now interestingly enough, Dean Barkley was kind of actually standing in the crowd with reporters. No one actually paying any attention to him. And all of a sudden, he walked through and took the podium. Dean Barkley is an attorney here in Minnesota. He's one of the early developers of the Reform Party here in Minnesota, ran for Congress in '92, ran for Senate in '94 and '96, garnered about 5 percent of the vote back in '96. And he says, Jesse Ventura, he is the man to represent Minnesota.
The question is, what happens now? What happens when this election is certified, when the winner from here, under state law, the winner who is certified in this election, can instantly take over the seat in the Senate. Dean Barkley was asked about what will happen. He said he really wasn't sure and it will probably be up to the lawyers.
WOODRUFF: Well, a lot, too, depends on whether the Senate goes back in session. Of course, that will depend on who's in the majority. And we'll know a lot more about that late tomorrow night, or maybe we won't, depending on how late it goes tomorrow night.
Now, I'm told that our own Bob Franken is there talking with the candidates, with the campaign people, who are talking to the talking to the press, after the debate.
And Bob, if you're there, usually, in these situations, both sides say, "we won." What are they saying?
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as a matter of fact, I'm going to use some visual aids to show you that spin is not dead and neither is high technology, where it gets things fast.
First, the spin, a minute or so after the debate from the Mondale side, it says "Building on past accomplishments: Mondale Outlines His Vision for the Future.
The spin from the other side, the Coleman side, "Coleman Presents Vision for Future; Mondale uses Attacks from the Past. I'm holding them both. Of course, I have Coleman on the right and Mondale on the left here.
But of course, neither of these a surprise. Both of them are trying to present their best face. Each of them is hoping that each scored some points. Of course, we know that in a debate like this, oftentimes, for the most part, they're preaching to the choir, but it was interesting to watch the tactics that they were using. Mondale who had to worry about, frankly, looking feeble, went on the attack the whole time. Coleman, who had to look like -- wanted to look senatorial, of course, maintained, for the most part, a calm demeanor. So probably both scored the points they wanted to score. The question is whether they moved the game any.
GREENFIELD: One day, folks, we're going to go to a debate spin where the guy is going to say my guy got his butt kicked and I'm going to give him that man a $50 bill.
WOODRUFF: We've got our...
GREENFIELD: I don't know if this ever happened, but life goes on.
WOODRUFF: We got our clock cleaned. Do you think they're going to say that any time soon, Bob?
FRANKEN: Well, I tell you what, first thing I'm curious about is well, what if one of their mimeograph machines -- I guess they're not mimeograph machines anymore -- but one of them breaks down?
SCHNEIDER: Well, what amuses me is that they have come out with these talking points about why they won and they're printed before the debate even starts. I mean, you know.
FRANKEN: Well, I understand that. Yes.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken.
FRANKEN: And I'm wondering, of course, if that $50 bill is a legal campaign contribution.
WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to give you a chance to go talk to some of the people who may be not doing some spending. Maybe some of the political analysts and others who don't have an ax to grind in this campaign, if there are some of those around there, too.
Final word on this? I mean, tomorrow is the election, as Bob just said. The question is did either side move the needle after today?
SCHNEIDER: I thought both sides had a problem and both sides dealt with that problem. Mondale's problem is, is he out of it? Is he too old? Does he still have fight left in him? He does. He showed that tonight. He fought back and he was tough and aggressive.
Coleman's problem is was he a dangerous right winger? Is he an ideologue. Will he mark in lockstep with George Bush? And I think he tried to show I'm going to be pragmatic. I'm not a harsh partisan. I'm going try to change the tone in Washington.
WOODRUFF: So if that's the case, Jeff, if they both did what they needed to do, then where does that leave the race in Minnesota? GREENFIELD: Well, it -- you know, if -- what I really think this comes down to is if Mondale's performance persuaded democrats who were still, to some extent, in mourning, that they must come out, they must turn out and vote for Mondale both to honor Wellstone and to help keep the Senate Democratic.
If you put the gun to my head, I would say it would tilt slightly toward Mondale on that basis, but that's a big "if,"because one thing that was very clear is if people looked at this debate and thought ,am I going to be frightened by the prospect of a Norm Coleman, will be coming too far to the right, too much of an ideologue, too much of a combatant, they didn't see that either, so.
WOODRUFF: I think all three of us are saying that both of them, Mondale did come across with fight and energy. Norm Coleman came across as not as frightening a figure as some on the left would have portrayed him.
Well, we will have much more on the Minnesota Senate race and Governor Jesse Ventura's announcement of an interim senator, as we continue our coverage of "America Votes."
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