Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) -- Tribute to Sen. Norm Coleman

Posted on July 9, 2009

Madam President, in 1998, Norm Coleman ran for Governor of Minnesota against the son of one of the most revered Members of this body, Hubert Humphrey, who was also a former Vice President of the United States, and a noted wrestler, Jesse Ventura, who was elected Governor. In 2002, Norm Coleman ran a campaign against Paul Wellstone, a beloved Member of this body who was tragically killed in an airplane crash a week or so before the election, bringing into the race a former Vice President of the United States, a former U.S. Senator and Ambassador, Walter Mondale. The whole country watched and was riveted by that race during that last week. Norm Coleman won that race. This past year, Norm Coleman was a participant in a race that also riveted the Nation. He was opposed by a well-known television personality, Al Franken, now a Member of this body. The race went on for 2 years, with much publicity. Then it went on for another 8 months after election day. If Norm Coleman could have found some way to make the 2000 Presidential election Bush v. Gore v. Coleman, Norm would have been a participant in every single one of the most spectacular political races of the last decade. Norm and I arrived in the Senate on the same day in 2003. We not only were Members of the Senate family, which we often talk about here and which extends to both sides of the aisle, we were Members of the same class, and are good friends. My wife Honey and I got to know Norm and his wife Laurie, the mother of their two children. We know of his love for his family and of his deep religious faith. Each of us in the Senate has enjoyed the good humor and cheer and civil relationship that Norm has had with his colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans. But most memorable -- and the Republican leader spoke of some of this -- is Norm Coleman's record of service to our country: chief prosecutor for the State of Minnesota, mayor of St. Paul, Senator. He has been a strong, eloquent, effective voice for the center of this country -- an independent voice of the kind our country and the Republican Party needs to attract and represent and continue to bring into our party and into our political process the center. The political campaigns of Norm Coleman have been more spectacular than those of any of us in the Senate. But the public service chapters of his life have been equally impressive. As this door closes, I am confident new ones will open. When I was Governor of Tennessee, my chief of staff, a former Marine, came in and said to me during my last years: Governor, I would like to say to you that people remember the last thing you do. And I had no idea why he said that to me, but I never could get it out of my mind, and I think it is pretty good advice. People will remember the last thing Norm Coleman did in this campaign. He proved to be determined and courageous and, in the Minnesota tradition, a happy warrior in attempting to make sure that every Minnesota vote counted in the race, which was decided by just a few votes. But then, when the Minnesota Supreme Court made its decision, he immediately was gracious about accepting the rule of law and the court's decision and stepping aside and congratulating Al Franken. That is the picture of Norm Coleman that most Minnesotans and most Americans will remember. That may have been the last thing that Norm did in this race, but I am sure it is far from the last thing he is likely to do in public life. Norm Coleman, after those three spectacular races, deserves an easy, humdrum, conventional political race someday. And Minnesota and the Nation can hope we will deserve and have many more years of Norm Coleman's public service. Madam President, I thank the Chair and yield the floor.