11:55 a.m. In the sixth of a series of candidate forums sponsored by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Norm Coleman is giving a speech entitled, “The Bipartisan Path to Energy Independence.”
Ed Morrissey from Hot Air (and formerly Captain’s Quarters) is here video streaming the event (“The Ed Morrissey Show”). Coleman is speaking on the heels of yet another new poll that finds him trailing Al Franken, this time by a 40 to 34 percent margin, with Dean Barkley at 15 percent (Big 10 Battleground poll, 583 RV). Coleman has trailed Franken in 7 of 8 polls dating back to the beginning of October.
11:58 a.m. Coleman is running as a bi-partisan Senator, and there is evidence to support this claim. According to Congressional Quarterly’s vote tracking of party unity, Coleman has been the third least partisan of the 14 members of the Minnesota delegation to D.C. since 2003. Coleman has voted with the GOP just 79 percent of the time (Mark Dayton and Amy Klobuchar, at 93 percent, were much more ‘party loyalists’). Only Jim Ramstad (78 percent) and Blue Dog Democrat Collin Peterson (73 percent) voted less with their party leadership since 2003. The CQ study found Coleman to be more partisan in his first few years in D.C. (92 percent in 2003 and 91 percent in 2004) than the last four (77 percent in 2005 and 2006, 64 percent in 2007, and 70 percent through July 2008).
12:10 p.m. Coleman says the issue of energy of independence is crucial to the country’s economic development and would be the most important step to stabilize the nation’s economic problems.
12:16 p.m. Coleman says the root cause says we have gone from 25 percent to 70 percent dependence on foreign oil from “when Jimmy Carter first put on his cardigan” to today. Coleman believe a bold energy plan will pass through Congress next year after the election of the new president – no matter who is elected. Coleman cites television commercial staple T. Boone Pickens and his plan to get America off its addiction to foreign oil. Coleman talks about his membership in the “Gang of 20” – comprised of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the U.S. Senate – in the first mention of his bi-partisan credentials.
12:21 p.m. Coleman says the country needs to get started on building a nuclear power plant now: it takes about 10 years to build a plant, and the government will be able to figure out what to do with the waste in that time.
12:23 p.m. Coleman also backs a $2,500 tax credit for the purchase of fuel-efficient automobiles, and a $7,500 tax credit for consumers who purchase alternative fuel autos.
12:25 p.m. Coleman mentions that he departs from his party leadership on the issue of drilling in Alaska’s ANWR region. He says it is sometimes just as important what you do not put on the table to get something done in Congress, and if Republicans are serious about developing energy independence they should leave ANWR off the table to get legislation through. Coleman talks about “finding common ground” and other language which hints the importance of bi-partisanship and his own bi-partisan credentials.
12:29 p.m. Coleman says Americans must not lose its resolve to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, now that prices have dropped significantly since the summer. “America’s problems are two big for one party to solve,” Colemans says as he ends his speech, noting Republicans, Democrats, and independents must come together to solve the energy crisis the nation currently faces. Coleman cites Hubert Humphrey’s “strategy of compromise” to deal with challenges, and “that is the Minnesota way.”
12:39 p.m. In a question and answer session with Center Director Larry Jacobs, Coleman says there is a consensus in Washington on moving forward on nuclear energy – with 27 plants that will soon be breaking ground.
12:42 p.m. Coleman says, “We need to get past the debate about global warming and climate change — we just need to deal with it.”
12:47 p.m. With regards to coal, Coleman stresses its importance to Minnesota (60 percent of its energy use), but says he believes in America’s innovative and technological abilities to find ways to minimize its impact on the environment, and therefore the nation can continue to use this low-cost energy source.
12:55 p.m. Coleman says Congress frequently only looks to the short-term, and never beyond the horizon, but that it needs to look beyond the horizon, because pretty soon the horizon will be right in front of us, and by then it will be too late.
1:00 p.m. Coleman has not mentioned either of his political opponents in his Senate race – Al Franken or Dean Barkley – at any point during his speech so far.
1:08p.m. “Corn-based ethanol has been the savior for rural America,” Coleman says, with regards to an audience member’s question on the impact on the food and water supply of bio-fuels. But, he adds, we are in a transitional phase, and new seeds are being developed that will increase yields, and also reduce the amount of water consumed. Coleman says the food and water supplies are legitimate concerns, but “we should not pull the plug.”
1:10 p.m. Coleman predicts “the country that develops green technology is the country that dominates the 21st Century.”