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September 1, 2004
Lunch With Senator Norm Coleman

One of the many distractions that all convention attendees must juggle are the continuous invitations to outside events, which sometimes conflict with convention business. Certainly this is true for the delegates, and it's widely known that if a delegate plays his cards right, he need never pay for a meal. This also applies to the candidates, who must coordinate a flood of invitations by being readily accessible to constituents and supporters on one hand without getting tied down to such a full schedule that it interferes with their ability to network at the convention itself with media, delegates, donors, and so on.

I received an invitation to a typical outside event, a lunch given on behalf of Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. Coleman serves as co-chair of the convention, which means that he has certain nominal duties to which he must attend here at the Garden. On this occasion, Coleman was able to put a couple of hours aside to join a number of people at a nice lunch sponsored by Target, and as a result, I got the best meal I'm likely to get on this visit to New York.

At the pre-lunch reception, I had the opportunity to meet Senator Colemand and his wife as well as a number of his staff and supporters. Colonel Joe Repya attended with his wife, and I secured an interview with him later, which I will post this evening. Coleman, who delivered a powerful but short speech at the Bush campaign rally earlier this month, instead spoke more personally about community-building. He challenged government and business to learn from each other -- government to learn accountability, and businesses to learn to serve their communities.

It felt as though Coleman spoke more contemporaneously, mixing in observations about several of his friends and supporters in the room and especially his feelings about returning to New York after having achieved so many of his dreams. Coleman continued to impress me, this time as a man who easily connects with a smaller audience. More importantly, I got a rare opportunity to watch him interact with his staff and some Minnesota volunteers, and he took care to point out their success and hard work to others. Coleman remarked, unprompted, to one guest that the woman who got me into the lunch was the best supporter of President Bush he knew. Instead of just sitting at his lunch table and ignoring his guests, Coleman worked the tables, making two passes while I was there -- I had to leave to get back to the Garden.

You may say that these qualities should be our baseline expectations for public servants like Norm Coleman, and of course you'd be correct. But the truth is that few actually meet those expectations, instead treating their staff as though they don't exist and regularly blaming others for their own failings -- as we've already seen in the Presidential race this year. Minnesotans can be proud that they've elected a man who works hard at being a decent guy.

The Northern Alliance will interview Norm Coleman at the state fair this weekend. Don't forget to tune in on Saturday to hear our chat with Minnesota's Senator.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 1, 2004 4:27 PM

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