Next Thursday, I was reminded today, is the 6th anniversary of the infamous memorial service for Paul Wellstone that some think put Sen. Norm Coleman into office. The memorial service ended up being — the narrative goes — a political rally after
Coleman Wellstone campaign official Rick Kahn gave a speech that called for Republicans to support Wellstone’s successor on the ballot, Walter Mondale.
Six years later, Kahn, who few had ever heard of before that night, is still villified for the speech. In 19 minutes, he changed Minnesota’s political history.
From all accounts, he was a campaign friend overcome with grief. It was actually Tom Harkin of Iowa who gave the real stemwinder that night. Kahn introduced the “stand up” theme of the evening, but it was Harkin who brought it home.
The old audio from that night is RealAudio, so I’ve reprocessed Harkin’s speech into an MP3.
One other missing piece of trivia in the aftermath of the speech: It was only after the service that Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed Dean Barkley, who is now running for the seat against Coleman and Al Franken, to fill out Wellstone’s term. Prior to that, according to Ventura, he had intended to appoint a DFLer.