Pawlenty on Senate race: “A few more months” and “it shouldn’t all be on Norm’s back.”

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was on MSNBC this afternoon to talk about the state’s long-running U.S. Senate race. Talking Points Memo highlighted a portion of Pawlenty’s discussion that said the legal matter could take “a few more months”:


“It’s frustrating that this has taken so long but we need to get a proper and just and accurate and legal result and it’s going to take, it looks like, a few more months to get that.”

What Talking Points Memo didn’t include in its video snippet was Pawlenty saying the focus of an appeal shouldn’t be all on Norm Coleman:


“…you shouldn’t assume that Norm Coleman’s going to lose the appeal. He’s got legitimate legal issues that he’s raised raised. That same question might be asked of Al Franken. The district court process is going to be revealed sometime in the next couple of weeks, like I said, then it will go to the court of appeals in all likelihood or the Supreme Court in Minnesota, the state-based system. And that might take a month or two to decide. But then that federal court process is available. I’m not saying one side or the other will take it but it shouldn’t all be on Norm’s back, it could very well at that point be on Al Franken’s back.”

I can’t find the entire video but someone sent me the transcript. Here it is…

Norah O’Donnell: And it is the race that never ends. I’m talking of course about the Minnesota senate race. Today is Day 154 and we still don’t have a winner. Tomorrow, a three-judge panel counts the last big batch of contested ballots, 400 in all, as Senator Coleman hopes to overcome Al Franken’s 225-vote lead. In the end, it may all come down to one man, the Governor of Minnesota who will eventually have to sign the election certificate. On the eve of the panel’s decision that man, Governor Tim Pawlenty, joins me now. Governor, good to see you, thank you so much for joining us.

Tim Pawlenty: Good to be with you, Norah.

O’Donnell: I just want to read you and everybody watching, too, from Politico today because they have a story called the Franken-Coleman gravy train that rides on. And here’s an excerpt, it says this, quote the epic senate recount battle between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken is turning out to be an incomparable gravy train. Coleman and Franken have raised more than $12 million between them since the election, mostly to pay their mounting legal bills. Governor, when is enough enough?

Pawlenty: Well, I think enough is enough, Norah, when we get a proper result. And of course there’s legitimate issues that have been raised about these ballots being counted or not counted. That’s been litigated. Now of course it’s going to be finalized at the lower court level hopefully sometime soon, but then one side or the other’s quite likely to take it to the Minnesota appellate process.

O’Donnell: If this three-judge panel tomorrow, after counting these ballots, says that Al Franken has the lead, will you sign the election certificate that makes him Senator Al Franken?

Pawlenty: The Minnesota Supreme Court said in a recent decision that a certificate shouldn’t issue or — isn’t likely that it should issue until the state court process has run its course. That would include the appellate process. It’s pretty clear that one side or the other’s going to take that next step, Norah, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me or anyone else to step in front of it. It’s frustrating that this has taken so long but we need to get a proper and just and accurate and legal result and it’s going to take, it looks like, a few more months to get that.

O’Donnell: I know that you — A few more months, huh? I know that you mentioned the appellate process, but what about, you know, the Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate here, John Cornyn, Mitch McConnell, they’re encouraging Senator Coleman to take this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. How would Minnesotans feel about the U.S. Supreme Court deciding this?

Pawlenty: Well, you shouldn’t assume that Norm Coleman’s going to lose the appeal. He’s got legitimate legal issues that he’s raised raised.

That same question might be asked of Al Franken. The district court process is going to be revealed sometime in the next couple of weeks, like I said, then it will go to the court of appeals in all likelihood or the Supreme Court in Minnesota, the state-based system. And that might take a month or two to decide. But then that federal court process is available. I’m not saying one side or the other will take it but it shouldn’t all be on Norm’s back, it could very well at that point be on Al Franken’s back.

O’Donnell: Well, let me ask you, because in 2001, when you were thinking about challenging Senator Coleman for the Senate, you received a call from Vice President Cheney asking you to step aside for the good of the party. Does someone need to do the same for Senator Coleman and say, it’s time to step aside and let’s move forward?

Pawlenty: Well, Norm Coleman is a friend of mine, I’ve talked to him about this over the months and he is somebody who hasn’t decided what he’s going to do. So I think there’s a lot of presumption being made about what he may or may not do throughout this process, a lot of it decides on — will depend on the court decision. So, everybody can take those forks in the roads when we get to them and we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but it’s important, it’s very important that we have a result here that isn’t some scam or isn’t based on some improper result or incomplete result, that we have a court that says this is the proper way to do it and the proper result. if we don’t have that, it’s going to corrode and undermine a much more important point which is our election system and the integrity of our elections.

O’Donnell: All right, Governor. I think you made some news by saying this is going to take several more months. People in your state will not have another senator, only one senator. Governor, thank you for your time, we appreciate you joining us.

Pawlenty: You’re welcome, Norah.

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