Norm Coleman walks fine line with Bush fundraiser

11:41 AM, Aug 22, 2007   |    comments
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Senator Norm Coleman's campaign no doubt received a financial boost from a presidential fundraiser Tuesday. And yet the media wasn't allowed to photograph Sen. Coleman with President Bush in Eden Prairie. "President Bush is not very popular with the swing voters, so Coleman has to distance himself," Hamline University's David Schultz told KARE 11. "Coleman has sort of a strange albatross around him here. He needs Bush for fundraising but at the same time he has to not look like he's that close to him, and doesn't want to appear next to him." Schultz says there's no doubt loyal Republicans opened their checkbooks at the private gathering, hosted by Starkey Laboratories founder Bill Austin and his wife Tani at a home on Bryant Lake. "George Bush's approval ratings are way down to Nixon levels. And yet there are still many Minnesota Republicans with money to spend and they're excited about the chance to meet the President and have their pictures taken with him." But Schultz suggested we'll see fewer and fewer public events pairing Coleman and the President. He wasn't surprised to learn that Coleman's opponents e-mailed photos from previous rallies showing the two of them arm in arm. "What the Democrats want do between now and 2008 is show the two of them together. Pictures of them hugging would be even better." When that comment was met with a laugh, Schultz said he wasn't trying to be funny. "Seriously, they want to glue them together, glue the two of them together in the public's mind." It's a tactic employed successfully by the opponents of former Saint Paul Mayor Randy Kelly, who endorsed the President's reelection bid in 2004. And in 2006 videotape of Mr. Bush and former Congressman Mark Kennedy sharing the stage helped Kennedy's adversaries create the visual link to Bush and his policies. War protesters greeted the President's motorcade as it drove through the intersection of the Crosstown Freeway and Beach Road. More of them staked out a spot near the boat ramp at Bryant Lake Regional Park, just across the lake from the home where the Coleman event was held. Coleman was there but was not available for any comments on camera afterwards. His campaign issued a statement expressing appreciation, but redirecting the focus on Minnesota. "We are honored to have the President of the United States here tonight to help the campaign," the statement read. "And while the Senator's first priority remains his job representing the people of Minnesota, our campaign will remain focused on the Senator's vision for the state."

By John Croman, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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