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Mondale Speaks

Aired November 6, 2002 - 10:38   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We now want to slip over to Minnesota. Bittersweet morning there in Minnesota after the death of Paul Wellstone, former vice President Walter Mondale stepped in. These are going to be his words of concession. Norm Coleman, the Republican, having bested the former vice president in one of the shortest campaigns in memory.
WALTER MONDALE (D), SENATE CANDIDATE, MINNESOTA: This election has been decided, and a few minutes ago, I called senator-elect Norm Coleman to congratulate him on his success, to wish him and Lorie (ph) the best in his new assignment. And I told him what I really believed, that the U.S. Senate is the best job in America, and I think he will love it.

I might ramble just a little bit, please pardon me, but I have so many people to thank, Joan and our wonderful family, to Jeff Blodgett and all those wonderful Wellstone supporters.


To Paul and Sheila and Marcia (ph), to David and Mark, and to all those people that helped us be aware of the need for decency, to my wonderful old runningmate Roger Mow (ph) and the others, I was proud of them. This has been one of the most unbelievable moments in Minnesota history, perhaps in modern American history. It's unbelievable to begin a campaign in the saddest of moments, and then have but one week to seek this extraordinary challenge. It was wonderful. People responded. They gave me strength. They were there. It was electric.

And I hope the historians will write some of this down, because I believe it says a lot about Minnesota. I love this state. I love Minnesotans, and in what is obviously the end of my last campaign, I want to say to Minnesotans, you always treated me decently, you always listened to me, you always did what really wonderful citizens do, and now you've made your decision. We respect it, and I am so proud of this state and so proud of its people. And I thank you for all that you've done for me and my family, and for the values that I hold so dearly. Thank you. Thank you.


And I want to say a word to the young people who gave their full hearts to this campaign and are now seeing defeat. It's important for you to know that your ideals are often tested more in defeat than in victory, to know that this is not the end but the beginning of what you can do for this state. You will be needed now more than ever. You are our future and you're the trustees of the legacy of social justice and decency. Stand up and keep fighting.


As for me and Joan and the others, I have no regrets. This is something that had to be done. I was proud, very proud to be a part of making the case for our vision for the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're proud of you.

MONDALE: Thank you. We're proud of you.

Power has now peacefully changed hands, and we are so blessed to be Americans when that happens. We kept the faith, we stayed the course, we fought the good fight, and every one of us should feel good about that. Thank you so much.

WOODRUFF: No matter which political party you belong to, no matter what your political persuasion, you have to say this is a moment that is overhung with sorrow in the loss of Paul Wellstone and just a moment of bittersweet here.

He's taking some questions. Let's listen to Walter Mondale.

MONDALE: I'll be with you in a minute.

As I said earlier, I have no regrets. Thank you for calling. I have no regrets. I think the campaign went well. I have never seen a more excited and engaged electorate. The turnout was record breaking. I have no regrets at all. And I take responsibility for this result. It's on my shoulders. No, no. This is the way it should be. This is the result that the people of people of Minnesota have every right to make. They made it, I accept it, I did my best and let's go on to the next issue.

Let me say what you've heard me say several times before. I think there were some statements that went too far, and it is very regrettable and on the saddest of days honoring a truly great Minnesotan and American and his family, that the shadow of partisan politics was raised. But let me say that we went through unspeakable tragedy for the senator, his wife, his daughter and several other people died, and the eulogizers were the ones who were hurt the most.


And can we not now -- it doesn't justify it, I'm not saying that, but we've all made mistakes, and can't we now find it in our hearts to forgive them, and go on and do what we must do as citizens.

QUESTION: We now have a Republican Congress. What do you think that's going to mean for the country?

MONDALE: I think the president won a big victory here. Normally a president in his first midterm, as you know, goes the other direction. But this was a sweep. We could feel the undertow here in Minnesota. He will claim a mandate, and I think the public will accept that. That does not mean, however, that the members of the Congress and others don't continue to have a responsibility to question, to make their case, to seek to bring about their views. So he has the government but I think the issues that we were talking about before the election will still be very much up front, and in the best tradition of America, that debate after a brief period of celebration will begin again.

QUESTION: Do you have any feelings about the people who are now in leadership given this result...

MONDALE: Let me just stay with the Senate. I think Tom Daschle is one of the best leaders that we've ever had. He's very capable, very decent. I think other factors are at work.

And let's remember something else -- the toughest position to be in is to be the majority leader of the United States Senate with just a nominal majority and not enough troops to get anything done. In the Senate, you never get anything passed, even as a majority, unless the minority is with you. That's the name of the game there. And Tom's been in this position time after time where he wants to do something, the public sees it's not getting done, it's hard for -- to understand what's really happening there, and one thing that's happened to Tom Daschle is today, he doesn't have to carry that burden.

Let me go over here.

WOODRUFF: Former Vice President Water Mondale every bit the statesman, taking responsibility for the loss, saying it was on his shoulder, although you heard some in the crowd again, raising many of the emotions that were there in Minnesota just about 10 days ago when Paul Wellstone was killed in the plane crash saying no, that's not the case.


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