Speaking at a campaign appearance in Moorhead, Minnesota, this morning, Norm Coleman called the allegations regarding Coleman and his wife contained in a Texas lawsuit filed this week “absolutely false” and “defamatory.”
But the bulk of Coleman’s prepared remarks were devoted to blaming the controversy, and the underlying litigation itself, on Democratic challenger Al Franken “and his political allies.”
Here is what Coleman had to say:
Thank you all for being here with me in Moorhead today. In a few days we will have one of the most important elections of our time. But instead of focusing on the issues, my opponent and his political allies want to divert attention away from this campaign with a false and malicious political attack against my wife.
Let me be clear. Each and every allegation in this lawsuit relating to me and my wife is false and defamatory. In the 11th hour, as the people of Minnesota are preparing to go the polls in a very impt election, a smear campaign has been attempted to try to influence that result. It’s absolutely outrageous, and I know Minnesotans will see it for what it is — sleazy politics — and reject it out of hand.
First of all, I appreciate that the majority of the media who have covered this story so far have been thougthful in raising legitimate questions about these tactics. The easy thing for me to do would be to let the news coverage stand on its own and trust that mn’ans will see through this. But mn’ans deserve more. When politics crosses an ethical line, we have to stand up and call it out for what it is.
Let me tell you how this arose. This is not about public documents researched by an investigative reporter. No. Sometime last week, even before this Texas lawsuit was originally filed, a copy of false allegations were delivered in Minnesota in an unmarked envelope to two Minneapolis Star Tribune reporters. I want to repeat that: Sometime last week, even before this Texas lawsuit was originally filed, a copy of false allegations were delivered in Minnesota in an unmarked envelope to two Minneapolis Star Tribune reporters.
And on Monday of this week, my opponent began running vicious, untrue ads — attacks — which the media, by the way, called these attack ads false. False. That same day, some person in Texas unknown to me or my wife files the lawsuit with these same allegations given to the reporter a week earlier. Within hours, that lawsuit was withdrawn. Then, yesterday morning, my campaign filed a legitimate lawsuit against Al Franken and his campaign for violating the state’s fair campaign laws.
Before you know it, we learn that this false and malicious lawsuit had been refiled in Texas. Now the Franken campaign and its allies are trying to use it for political advantage. So today I’m calling for an end to these personal, malicious attacks — these unfounded, 11th-hour attacks. This is not how we do campaigning in Minnesota. i hope Minnesotans will join me in holding my opponent and his political allies accountable for this. A few weeks ago, I took down my negative ads to put a more positive focus on the issues of the day. That approach has been emphatically rejected by Mr. Franken. Minnesotans want to know what kind of senator Al Franken would be, watch his campaign this last week. See how he’s attacked my family, my wife, and my reputation.
My message to him, his political allies, and to anyone else who intends to attack my wife and my family in the remaining days of the campaign is this: Get out of the gutter.
My wife has been devastated by this. She turns on her computer and reads on the blogs the most personal, vicious attacks impugning her integrity and trying to destroy her ability to do her job. She’s angry, and she has a right to be. And so am I. This is the kind of 11th-hour sleazy attack the people of Minnesota are sick and tired of. This is not the Minnesota way. I know the people of Minnesota, and this will backfire.
If my opponents have any shred of decency left in them in the course of this campaign, stop attacking my family. I’ll take a couple of questions.