January 21st, 2009
05:30 PM ET
3 months ago

Despite long odds, Coleman confident he will beat Franken

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, began packing his Capitol Hill office Wednesday, but indicated he has no intention of giving up his legal fight to serve another term in Congress.

Coleman trails Democrat Al Franken by 225 votes. But in an interview with CNN, Coleman called Franken’s lead “artificial,” and expressed hope that the Minnesota courts will rule in his favor on ballot disputes when they take up the question next week.

“I really do have a sense of confidence that this will work itself out the right away,” Coleman said.

Franken, the comedian-turned liberal talk show host-turned political candidate, was also on Capitol Hill Wednesday meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, “to discuss the legislative agenda, especially the economic stimulus” plan, a Reid spokesman said.

Back in Minnesota, lawyers for the two men met with a three-judge panel in the afternoon to hear arguments brought by Franken's attorneys that Coleman's pending legal challenge to contest the recount results should be dismissed.

“We have got a good shot at this and so I proceed with that in mind,” he said. “But logistically you have to move out of the office.”

For the time being, Coleman plans to send his Senate papers to the Minnesota Historical Society, but with the caveat that they would be returned if he overcomes Franken’s lead and wins a second term. He was first elected in 2002.

Coleman was once viewed as a rising star in the Senate, and often mentioned for leadership positions within the Senate Republican Conference. In 2004, Coleman lost a bid to run the National Republican Senatorial Committee to Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-North Carolina, by one vote. Now, he is fighting for his political life, and removing the pictures from his Senate office walls.

“It is really hard,” he said. “It is hard on multiple levels. It is hard certainly an emotional level. I wonder what folks, who have been here 24 years or 18 years, they have to pack up. There are a lot of memories. And then there is a practical side … we have a sense of confidence we are coming back.”

One of the many perks senators are afforded is a front-row seat to presidential inaugurations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, gave Franken tickets so he could attend President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. Coleman watched it at home in Minnesota.

“I would have loved to have the opportunity to have been there as a member of the U.S. Senate,” he said. “Circumstance didn’t provide that, but I celebrated the moment like everybody else. It was a great day for America yesterday.”

At about the same time Wednesday that Coleman was striking an optimistic tone, Reid was chiding the Republican senator for not conceding the race to Franken.

“There is no way that Coleman can win this,” Reid said. “The numbers just aren't there. He should concede. There (are) a lot of people who did the same thing and it's better for them. Polls in Minnesota show that about half the people are upset at Franken, I'm sorry, I mean upset at Coleman asking for this additional work.”

A Reid spokesman said that at some point he may attempt to seat Franken, but cautioned that no decision has been made yet.

The Minnesota seat is the only vacancy in the Senate, which Democrats control by a 58 to 41 margin. Should Franken prevail, Democrats would be one vote shy of the magic number of 60, which would give them the power to muscle through major legislative initiatives over Republican objections.

Coleman predicted that Reid would not dare to seat Franken until legal proceedings are resolved, because he has not been presented with a signed election certificate by state officials. For weeks, Reid would not acknowledge Roland Burris as the junior senator from Illinois because his certificate lacked the secretary of state’s signature.

“I am quite confident that the United States Senate will not seat someone without a signed election certificate,” he said. “And I believe that will be handled in a bipartisan way.”

Coleman said that if he loses the election, he is certain that he will land on his feet in academia, private practice or another public service role.

“I am not wringing my hands over it,” he said. “My being is not defined by being a United States senator. I have given my life to public service.”

Coleman added, “I am confident that we will be back on top.”

–CNN’s Chris Welch and Ted Barrett contributed to this report


Filed under: Minnesota Senate race • Norm Coleman
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. David Newport, OR

    It has worked out.

    January 21, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. Byron in Minneapolis

    “I am quite confident that the United States Senate will not seat someone without a signed election certificate,” he said. “And I believe that will be handled in a bipartisan way.”
    IT WAS NORM!
    I never want to hear another Republican complain about Gore suing Bush to win the Presidency after this. EVER.
    Norm Coleman is the GOP's Al Gore, end of story. He lost and he needs to get over it.

    January 21, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. Bugs Bunnys back

    Whats up there Colman,run out of carrots?

    January 21, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. Sue

    I don't like either one of them. Can Minnesota start over?

    January 21, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. Matt Z

    Keep grasping at those straws! It sure seems at odds with the senator's earlier comments. This is a wonderful case of "do as I say, not as I do!"

    MZ

    January 21, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  6. Ron , West Coast

    Normie, go home and brush your " Big false looking teeth ".......
    I thought you did`nt like " activevice " judges that made the law from the bench ....... Seems as though you`ve somehow recently changed your tune ........
    You are a " Hypocrite ", and a " Fool "....

    January 21, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  7. Ron , West Coast

    I misspelled the word ' activist " , sorry.

    January 21, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. Minnesotan

    “I really do have a sense of confidence that this will work itself out the right away,” Coleman said. Sure it will, Normie. Franken will be declared the winner and you'll go back to New York as the carpet-bagger you were when you came to Minnesota. You lost, fair and square. Give it up before you make even more of a fool of yourself.

    January 21, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  9. Tom

    It's not the only vacancy. Hillary's seat is also vacant, if I'm not mistaken.

    January 21, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  10. Allen, Hartwell GA

    I love CNN and have nothing out of the ordinary to say about this subject.

    January 21, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  11. Matt

    If Coleman was ahead by the same number of votes, he would demand to be seated (as he was against the automatic recount). Now that he is behind, he is not willing to give up his seat without a fight.

    With the delay in court procedures, which he will lose, Minnesota has only one Senator and they are under-represented.

    I wish Coleman would concede to Al Franken already so we can get on with the real process of Congress...

    January 21, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  12. betsy

    Typical Republican. When you count all the votes and you are behind have the court give you the victory if you can. It worked for Bush, it should work for Coleman. We all know how that worked out.

    January 21, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  13. Rudy

    If I remember right, it was Coleman, when he was in the lead, told Franken, don't seek legal action, don't ask for a recount. These two thinks would be bad for the people of Minnesota and bad for the people of the USA. However, now that he is behind it is okay to go for a recount'???? Hmmmmmmmm.........I guess when it suits the GOP it is okay?

    January 21, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. LisaR_Dallas, TX

    Are you kidding me?

    If this goes back and forth again, then there needs to be a re-vote by the people. If not, there is clearly something underhanded goings-on.

    January 21, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  15. Karen - Missouri

    Coleman should move on. He is causing too much strain on his state and costing his taxpayers too much money. Move on already! The Senate has too much work to do to waste time listening to Coleman whine

    January 21, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  16. Willy Brown

    He will. Franken is a fool and would only cement the fools on the hill if he steals this with the democrats help.

    January 21, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  17. Greg in Houston

    Go away Norm. You didn't deserve that seat in the first place and would not have had it except for a tragic accident that killed an, unlike you, great Senator.

    January 21, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. John Anthony

    Not a chance, Coleman. Give it up.

    January 21, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  19. Joe from Pennsyltucky

    Franken is stealing this seat and getting away with it. This is disgusting and all Americans should be ashamed.

    January 21, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  20. JR

    “I really do have a sense of confidence that this will work itself out the right away,” Coleman said.

    It already has, Norm.

    January 21, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  21. Texas Teacher

    Pffft.... “I am not wringing my hands over it,” he said. “My being is not defined by being a United States senator. I have given my life to public service.”

    Oh really? You could have fooled me and a lot of others! Sounds like desperation to me! Boo Hoo.... you got what you asked for... and you lost! Suck it up and get on with it!

    January 21, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. EBC

    This guy Coleman is seriously in DENIAL, I wonder if this fool is on some heavy medication or worse. I mean YOU LOST buddy. How many ways does it need to be told to you before it sinks in!!!!

    I mean ENOUGH already, you lost. GET ON with your life. All this foolishness has became very OLD weeks ago.

    January 21, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  23. xavier

    Coleman,
    yes, ti will work out the right way. It will work out so that you are out of a job!

    January 21, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  24. Thomas

    Dream on Coleman !

    Let go and move on !

    January 21, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  25. Mike Seebeck

    Sure, Coleman. And Dewey beat Truman, remember?

    January 21, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
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