Minn. GOP Chair Wants Equal Time After Wellstone Memorial

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:29 PM EDT

(1st Add: Includes comments by Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.)

(CNSNews.com) - The chair of the Minnesota Republican Party is calling on the state's television and radio stations to give the GOP equal time to campaign, given the partisan tone of Tuesday night's memorial for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, who along with his wife and daughter, perished in a plane crash last week.

"What should have been a time of healing and uniting turned into a divisive three-hour display that has created a great political imbalance only days away from the election," said Minnesota GOP state chair Ron Eibensteiner.

"The only way to correct this imbalance is for the stations that covered this event to offer the Republican Party equal time. With six days left in the campaign, there are plenty of opportunities to give our statewide Republican ticket equal airtime, including President Bush's expected visit this weekend," he added.

"We have sent a letter to all of the stations that carried the event and eagerly await their response," Eibensteiner said.

"We are not necessarily demanding three and a half hours to match the time spent on television last night, but something obviously needs to be done. That is why my call for a series of debates is most appropriate and warranted in light of the events of last night," he said."

According to Eibensteiner, the Republican state executive committee will meet Wednesday afternoon to pass a resolution backing up his request to the media, followed by a campaign rally later in the evening.

"I can predict that this will be a huge, smashing success. The phones have literally been ringing off the hook at the party and at the Coleman campaign," he said.

For a four-hour period during and after the memorial service Tuesday night, Eibensteiner said, "We answered so many phone calls, people wanting to contribute, wanting lawn signs."

The party raised $150,000 between 7:30 and 11pm Tuesday night alone, he added.

Wellstone's memorial service was billed as a memorial service, but instead it turned into a political rally, Eibensteiner said. "They even had applause lines and sheets to hold up at the appropriate time," he added.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is reportedly so upset by the partisan tone at Wellstone's memorial service that he's threatening to appoint an Independent to succeed the senator.

Ventura is upset by a speech made by Wellstone's close friend, Rick Kahn, in which he told the crowd, "I'm begging you to help us win this Senate election for Paul Wellstone."

Said Ventura, "I wanted to hear the sons. But Rick Kahn's, I found his so offensive to me as an Independent, or to anyone who is not necessarily going to vote for Senator Wellstone who still respects him and came to pay their respects."

He added, "It drove the first lady to tears."

Before the funeral Ventura had said he planned to replace Wellstone with someone from the Democratic Party. Whoever the governor appoints will fill Wellstone's seat until the election results are certified.

See Also:

Minnesota Radio Listeners Offended By Wellstone Memorial (Oct. 30, 2002)

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