Nelson-Pallmeyer, Frannie Franken address convention

An impassioned Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer triggered liberal values of peace and the environment among Beltrami County DFLers Sunday, warning that this decade sets the tone for the century. But it was Frannie Franken, speaking for her husband, Al Frank...

An impassioned Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer triggered liberal values of peace and the environment among Beltrami County DFLers Sunday, warning that this decade sets the tone for the century. But it was Frannie Franken, speaking for her husband, Al Franken, who got the delegates by underscoring electability in both men's pursuit of the Democrat endorsement to run against Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman.

In the end, Al Franken got six Beltrami DFL delegates and Nelson-Pallmeyer three.

"I worry about the future of all of us," Nelson-Pallmeyer told about 170 delegates to the Beltrami County DFL Convention, where congressional district and state convention delegates were elected. "I don't need to tell any of you that our country has unraveled at a remarkable and frightening pace," he said. "I've never seen Minnesotans more anxious about their lives."

The University of St. Thomas professor of justice and peace studies added that "this is the worst administration in U.S. history, and Norm Coleman has got to go."

He evoked the memory of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, saying he served on Wellstone's foreign policy advisory committee before "he took his courageous vote against the Iraq war."


Nelson-Pallmeyer said the nation was "lied to and manipulated by politics of fear for a well-crafted war that was about oil ... that would be a disaster for this country and for Iraq."

He also embraced environmental activism, citing global warming as a problem that must be solved.

"The decisions we make in the next few years will determine the quality of life for all future generations," he said. "As bad as the Bush administration is, the election has to be about us."

A movement of unprecedented strength needs to be built, Nelson-Pallmeyer said, and now. "Will you help build that movement?" he asked, answered by a loud round of applause.

To do so, three problems need to be hurdled, he said.

"Our nation is poised to borrow trillions of dollars to pay for imported oil," Nelson-Pallmeyer said, "and to fight an unending series of wars to access that oil."

Instead, the United States needs to build a renewable energy economy that includes building wind turbines and hybrid electric cars in Minnesota, as well as connecting Minnesota cities by commuter rail.

Second, "we have to help this country transition from being the dominant military superpower to being a good country that will join the community of nations to solve pressing problems," he said to a standing ovation.


The nation spends 88 times more on war preparation than climate change, he said, a cost that prevents needed spending on health care or education. One day of Iraq war spending could hire 9,300 teachers for a year, he said.

Third, "we need an economy and we need social priorities that serve the common good and not the uncommon greed of the few," Nelson-Pallmeyer said, adding he would "take away the tax break for the richest 1 percent and fully fund education, pre-school through university."

Nelson-Pallmeyer said he was the only Senate candidate calling for full national single-payer universal health care, which Wellstone also sought. "Universal health care is just a goal -- don't let politicians say they're for universal health care without talking about how we get there."

A national single-payer health system needs to be put in place first, then focus can bear on quality, prevention, and parity for mental, physical and dental health.

Frannie Franken said her husband framed a health care plan when he decided to seek the Senate seat more than a year ago, and does support universal health care.

It's just that a national single-payer plan would never pass Congress.

"We want universal health care for every man, woman and child," she said to loud applause. "It will be portable, it will include preventive care, wellness care, all pre-existing conditions will be included -- you can't be turned down and you can't be canceled."

Saying if Franken were senator and single-payer health care was on the floor, "he would vote for it in a minute," Frannie Franken said. Wellstone was a "fervent advocate" of single-payer health care, but "he came to the realization that single-payer health care was not going to pass.


"Paul felt the best thing to do was not throw the perfect out for the good," she said. "Paul's strategy and his goal was universal health care -- let 50 flowers bloom. And those 50 flowers are each of our states."

Franken adopted that plan, saying first all citizens need to be covered under a federal mandate with the federal government paying transition costs, but let the states decide what kind of system for payment they want, she said.

Franken's plan calls for children up to age 18 to be covered by a single-payer plan -- Medicare for kids -- and let the states decided their own system of paying for universal health care for adults until eligible for Medicare.

Frannie Franken also outlined more federal support of early education through higher education, such as a loan forgiveness program for higher ed tuition. Students performing service in their field after graduation could have portions of their student loans forgiven, she said.

Franken also called for "a green economy in which create jobs, jobs, jobs, while at the same time addressing issues of global warming."

While the United States needs to "get out of Iraq immediately," Frannie Franken said a plan is needed as "we need to leave Iraq with more thought getting out than we did in getting in," a plan that calls for "a safe and responsible withdrawal."

Franken said there is a "new progressive majority emerging" and that her husband has broad support of individual contributions from 50,000 Minnesotans, 65,000 people nationwide, "who understand the importance of a progressive senator, even if it isn't in their own state."

Al Franken also has endorsements from more than 60 state legislators, including Reps. Brita Sailer of Park Rapids and Frank Moe of Bemidji, she said, and 14 labor unions.


"We're proud of all those endorsements, we're grateful for them, anybody who has run a campaign knows that you need them," Frannie Franken said. "But the endorsement he wants the most, the endorsement he values above all others, is yours."

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