- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Republican Norm Coleman accused liberal Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone yesterday of running a campaign of "fear and class warfare" to hide "an extreme left" voting record far outside Minnesota's political mainstream.
Mr. Coleman, the former St. Paul mayor, said, "I do not think he is" dishonest but charged that Mr. Wellstone was "presenting himself to the voters as someone that he isn't. What we're seeing is the repackaging of Paul Wellstone."
"He's toned down his politics. He's running as a person who is working in a bipartisan way to get things done in the Senate," Mr. Coleman said in an interview during a one-day visit to Washington.
But this is not the same man who has been representing Minnesota in the Senate for nearly 12 years and who, despite a pledge to serve only two terms, is seeking a third term in November, his Republican rival said.
"This is an extreme left, ideological liberal who has voted against increased defense spending, fought against welfare reform, voted against the tax cuts, opposed the trade bill and called for a seven-year freeze on defense spending. He's so far out of the mainstream that he cannot get anything done for Minnesota," Mr. Coleman said.
Mr. Wellstone has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate. Last year prominent left-leaning and labor union advocacy groups gave him a 100 percent liberal score, including Americans for Democratic Action, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Mr. Coleman's campaign has managed to keep the senator on the defensive by attacking his liberal voting record. Polls have shown the race in a dead heat, with Mr. Wellstone holding a slight 3- to 4-point lead throughout most of the summer.
"The struggle is likely to go down to the wire and still represents one of the GOP's best opportunities for a Senate pickup," says the latest analysis by the Cook Political Report.
But heavy TV-ad spending this summer by the Minnesota Democrat's campaign and his allies is portraying Mr. Wellstone as someone who works with other senators to build a consensus to pass legislation. "He gets it done," his ads say.
That's not the way Mr. Coleman sees it. "He's been there 11 years, and what has he got done? He's not a guy who gets things done," he said.
An ad series being run by the Wellstone campaign attacks President Bush's plan to let workers invest some of their Social Security taxes in stocks and bonds. Although the ad does not directly mention Mr. Coleman, it states: "It's a fundamental choice the Senate will make to privatize Social Security or not."
Mr. Coleman said Mr. Wellstone is "playing on the fears of the elderly; he's playing class warfare."
But the Wellstone campaign disputed Mr. Coleman's charges yesterday.
"Norm's big problem is his credibility. Whether you agree or disagree with Paul Wellstone, you always know that he believes what he says and what he does. With Norm it's the opposite. People don't believe him, and it's a major weakness of his," said Jim Farrell, the Wellstone campaign's chief spokesman.
"Social Security is going to be a big issue after this election. Cuts in benefits are part and parcel of any privatization scheme. Norm is scrambling to get out from under his previous support for the Bush plan of privatization," Mr. Farrell said.
Mr. Coleman said he believes that the heavy TV-ad campaign that the AFL-CIO, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and other liberal groups have been running on Mr. Wellstone's behalf throughout July and August may have hurt the Republican challenger in the short term.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he's stretched out a lead over the past month. They've poured in a ton of money into their ads, well over $1.5 million just in the last month," Mr. Coleman said.
The former mayor has been running some ads as well. But Mr. Coleman said the National Republican Senatorial Committee has decided for tactical reasons to hold back its big media purchases until after Labor Day "when people begin paying attention to the campaign."

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