[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/27/kennedy.senate.clout/art.kennedysenate.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Tom Harkin recently became the chair of key Senate committee led by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy until Kennedy fell ill with brain cancer. 'It now falls to me to pick up the torch,' Harkin said Sunday."]
INDIANOLA, Iowa (CNN) - Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat who recently filled the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Sunday that a Senate health-care reform bill would include a "strong" public option and that it would get through by the holiday recess.
He also said it will have support from "some" Republicans, although he said he isn't sure how many.
"I'm ready to carry on [Kennedy's] work, and I'm ready to get a health reform bill passed and to President Obama before Christmas comes this December," Harkin said in a fiery push for health reform during a speech at his annual Steak Fry, a fundraiser for Iowa Democrats.
"That bill - mark my word, I'm the chairman - is going to have a strong public option," he added to thunderous applause.
In a media availability held just prior to his speech, Harkin said he believed the legislation would be able to garner enough support from both sides of the aisle - potentially enough to label it bipartisan when all is said and done.
"We will have some Republicans on our bill," Harkin said.
While reflecting on Kennedy, Harkin called him a "great friend" whose legacy will be tough to live up to.
"We lost a great progressive, a great leader on so many issues...It now falls to me to pick up the torch," Harkin said, adding that he is up to the challenge.
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (CNN) - The outdoor park where now former Gov. Sarah Palin chose to deliver her farewell address was eerily silent Sunday afternoon as the predominantly supportive crowd hung on her every word, waiting for any clue to what her future plans may be.
Alaskans Laurie Lawrence and Brenda Medina said they spent some time post-speech debating what she could do and concluded she'll most likely stay in politics.
"I got that impression, [and] I hope she does," Lawrence said.
No one got clear answers in that department, but everyone was willing to share their own hopes for her future.
"I love Sarah," said Alaskan Corinne Roe. "She's a great governor...I hope she runs for the presidency."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/26/palin.picnic/art.palin.picnic.cnn.jpg caption="Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin visits hometown of Wasilla two days before stepping down from her post."]
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was met with a fairly warm reception at a picnic in Anchorage on Saturday, a day before she steps down as the state's governor.
Supporters displayed signs, including "Palin 2012" and "Palin, you're as great as Alaska." The few dissenters in the crowd said they wanted to come down and see what the hoopla was about.
Palin and Lt. Gov Sean Parnell, who will replace her, passed out burgers and hot dogs at the food line. Media and the crowd were kept at a distance, and were often pushed back by security officers and Palin's personal handlers.
The governor will transfer gubernatorial power to Parnell in Fairbanks on Sunday.
Follow CNN's Chris Welch (@cwelchCNN) as he tweets from Alaska.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/25/art.palinbye0725.cnn.jpg caption="Gov. Palin greeted supporters at an event in Wasila, Alaska Friday as she winds down her tenure as governor."]
WASILLA, Alaska (CNN) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made it clear to hundreds gathered at a picnic in Wasilla on Friday night that she loves her hometown community.
"This being my last time to speak to the valley community as your governor, I do want to tell you sincerely that I love you," Palin said in one of her last speeches as governor.
"I appreciate you and your support, the support that you've shown my family. God bless you and God bless America."
Shouts of "We love you Sarah!" and "Sarah Palin in 2012" could be heard over the applause as she finished. Few seemed to have an unfavorable view of the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee at the event, which honors men and women in uniform.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/01/art.franken2.cnn.jpg caption="Sen.-elect Al Franken spent much of his 15 minute speech thanking his supporters."]ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - One day after the Minnesota Supreme Court handed down it's unanimous decision in favor of Democrat Al Franken, the senator-elect thanked supporters and, for a moment, got emotional in a speech on the steps of the state capitol.
He seemed to strike a sentimental chord a couple of times, once when invoking former Minnesota Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash in 2002.
"It is of course technically true that this was Paul's U.S. Senate seat. But I don't think Paul saw it that way," Franken said. "This seat belongs to the people of Minnesota, and so did Sen. Wellstone, and so will I."
Franken spent much of his roughly fifteen minute speech thanking his wife Franni, his supporters, volunteers, campaign staff, and the people of the state he will soon represent.
"This was a historically close race. But it wouldn't have been if it weren't for Franni - I would have lost by kind of a lot," Franken said.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/21/franken.senate/art.franken.gi.jpg caption="Democrat Al Franken has started hiring staff members for a Senate office."]
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - While he waits to see whether the latest court ruling will allow him to take Minnesota's open seat in the Senate, Al Franken has been lying low.
Five months after a loss on Election Day, four months after he won in a recount, a week after prevailing in a tedious trial, the comedian and author might well be on his way to becoming the 59th Democrat in the United States Senate.
Even though that seat's incumbent, Republican Norm Coleman - now referred to as "former senator" - has appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Franken's campaign has done what it can to give the appearance that he's getting ready to take the seat when Coleman exhausts his challenges.
Since winning the recount, Franken has made a handful of visits to Washington and has met with majority leader Harry Reid to discuss Senate business, according to Franken aides.
And on Monday, he began hiring staff for a Senate office.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/20/art.getty.norm.coleman.jpg caption="Attorneys for Norm Coleman announced Monday afternoon they have filed an appeal seeking to overturn a District Court's decision that he lost his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate last November."]MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Attorneys for Norm Coleman announced Monday afternoon they have filed an appeal seeking to overturn a District Court's decision that he lost his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate last November.
The appeal, filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court, followed the lower court's ruling that Democrat Al Franken beat Coleman, a Republican.
"We do believe that the District Court got it wrong on the law and wrong because the Minnesota tradition and law are to enfranchise people, and their decision disenfranchises many Minnesotans whose votes have been wrongly rejected," said Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/14/art.getty.norm.coleman.jpg caption="An attorney for former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, pictured above, said they still plan to appeal to the state's high court."]MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - A day after a much-awaited trial court ruling named Democrat Al Franken the winner of Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, an attorney for former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman said they still plan to appeal to the state's high court.
Coleman lawyer Ben Ginsberg emphasized the need for a full review of the ruling over the need for a speedy appeals process. "I would be surprised if it's before next week," he said. "I mean, we're reviewing the 65-page opinion, and I think we'll take time to be sure we review and frame the issues correctly before we file the notice."
The Coleman camp's arguments were shot down from just about every angle in the lower court's decision. But Ginsberg said he has confidence the Minnesota Supreme Court will see their case differently, and focus more on the equal protection argument Coleman had been pursuing all along.
He added that, based on what he's seen in the state Supreme Court's historical rulings, the high court justices will be more conscious of the "rights of voters."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/07/art.getty.al.franken.jpg caption="Democrat Al Franken extended his lead over former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman Tuesday as the three-judge panel overseeing the election trial tallied an additional 351 absentee ballots that had not previously been included."]ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – Democrat Al Franken extended his lead over former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman Tuesday as the three-judge panel overseeing the election trial tallied an additional 351 absentee ballots that had not previously been included.
Despite his slim chances, Coleman had been hoping to overtake Franken's first post-recount lead of 225 votes. After Tuesday's additions, Franken leads by more than 300.
While the judges did not offer an official ruling - or indicate when they would - these vote totals are likely to remain unchanged.
"I think we are done," Franken attorney Marc Elias said at a press conference upon the completion of the tallying at the Minnesota Judicial Center. ""There is a sense of relief that it's over, at a personal level."
But banking on the fact that the judges' final decision would rest in Franken's favor, Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg reasserted the former senator's desire to appeal the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - The trial to resolve Minnesota's disputed U.S. Senate race may soon be over - but get ready for appeals, say attorneys involved in the case.
The three judge panel on Tuesday is reviewing and potentially counting nearly 400 absentee ballots that they decided last week should be added to the tally.
In the end, it could be disappointing news for former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, who had originally asked for 1,300 ballots to be added. Now Coleman - who brought forth the trial after Democratic challenger Al Franken came out ahead in the statewide recount by a mere 225 votes out of 3 million - will have a much smaller pool of votes to work with to overturn Franken's lead.
Even if the counting wraps up by the end of the day, there has been no indication by the judges when a final ruling in the case could come.