AP calls Minnesota Senate race: Norm Coleman (R) defeats Al Franken (D)

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JOHN HOCKENBERRY: This is The Takeaway. I'm John Hockenberry. And the squeaker in Minnesota has finally squeaked. Norm Coleman has been announced as the Republican senator reelected in Minneapolis. No punch line for Al Franken, who was down to just a few hundred folks there during the counting, which went into the wee hours of the morning and was just resolved by the Associated Press moments ago. Tom Scheck from Minnesota Public Radio joins us from the Twin Cities. Tom, what happened in the end and why was this so close? TOM SCHECK: Well, the AP just called it, and Norm Coleman is ahead by 800 votes at this point, but there are still two precincts remaining. What's basically going to happen from here is that there's going to be a mandatory recount because it's been less than one percent ? less than one-half of once percent of the total percentage votes. Each candidate here, Democrat Al Franken and Republican Senator Norm Coleman, got 1.2 million votes, so 800 votes at this point are separating the two. And now in about two weeks, the canvassing board is going to meet here and then they're going to start examining each ballot by hand and go through that. The Secretary of State said that could take up to a month to make sure that this, this race is the way [?]. JOHN HOCKENBERRY: What were the raw numbers on the presidential race ? Obama-McCain? TOM SCHECK: Obama beat John McCain by about 10 percentage points. I think it was 53-43, so the coattails for ? were not so long for Barack Obama in terms of Al Franken. There were a lot of folks who were concerned that Al Franken, as, as you said, a former comedian for Saturday Night Live was not gonna be taking the job very serious and that was one of the things that Republican Senator Norm Coleman really hammered him on over the last couple of months saying, you know, this is a serious job and it's not ? it's no place for a comedian. JOHN HOCKENBERRY: And so there was a lot of ticket-splitting there in Minnesota and I'm wondering if there were campaign appearances on the part of Barack Obama to help Al Franken, or was he really on his own to raise himself over the I'm-just-a-comedian bar? TOM SCHECK: There were not many appearances for Barack Obama. Obviously he felt like he was gonna win Minnesota and wanted to spend some times [sic] in, in more red states. But Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton made several appearances, especially over the last two weeks. They campaigned on the Iron Range which is one of those parts in northern Minnesota where, where they were just concerned about, okay, is this guy serious enough? Is this someone that we could really trust? Is he a real, true Minnesotan and they really campaigned heavily for him. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani also campaigned for Norm Coleman. So for the last two weeks, they were really, really intent and I mean I, I talked to the campaign manager on Sunday for Norm Coleman and he said, you know, this is gonna be close, recount close. And I kind of joked a little bit and chuckled and he was kind of pretty true on that [LAUGHS]. JOHN HOCKENBERRY: He was definitely true on that. I mean it's ? it's sort of the irony about the Clintons campaigning for Al Franken. I mean I guess it's payback. You know, Franken has used the Clintons for so many of his material ? or for so much of his comedy material. I wonder if having the Clintons campaign for Al Franken necessarily made the point that he's serious? TOM SCHECK: Well, the Clintons both ? they both thought that Al Franken could make the jump to the Senate and we actually asked Hillary Clinton on Monday about this to say, is this someone that ? that could do, do a good job and be taken seriously in, in the Senate? And she was like, of course, of course, there's no doubt about that. So - so she was saying he's a smart guy, he graduated from Harvard, he can do the job. So, so it was ? [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE] ? it was a dichotomy, so to speak. JOHN HOCKENBERRY: Is the future punditry, is it radio, is it more comedy? We will see on the Al Frankencense [?] but Norm Coleman is going back to the Senate. Tom Scheck from Minnesota Public Radio, thanks so much for, for joining me,. TOM SCHECK: You got it. JOHN HOCKENBERRY: Did I just say Frankencense? I did. Pardon me, Al Franken sense. That's amazing. I, I claim that. That's, that's mine.
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