Every Goodbye Ain't Gone

Wellstone Remembered

When I think of Paul, I think of a genuine person who always gives you a hug, always thanks you. I remember when he had the green bus and I said, "Paul, I want to get on the bus." "Come on! Come on!" he said. So I went inside the bus and walked from end to end and I thought it was so cute the way he had that platform at the end. He didn't do that bus just to get extra votes. That was the real Paul. He remained the same. I guess what I admire about Paul is that he was able to stand alone. He had the uncanny ability to say what he felt and still be respectful. I did admire greatly his courage. (Robson)

 

Pablo Tapia
LATINO ACTIVIST, ST. PAUL

It was so hard to resist giving him a hug every time you saw him. At least for me it was. And that's the thing--he didn't know me that well, and I wasn't part of any inner circle. I'm just someone in the Latino community. And he's a politician. I don't think I'll ever hug any other politician.

What he really did for us in Minnesota was to help in breaking the barriers of heritage and ethnicity. It's a very big deal for so many immigrants to come here and find someone like that in government who is not Latino, but white. Here on earth, he spoke for those of us who didn't have a voice. Up in heaven, he will speak for us as well. After 9/11, this is the worst tragedy that could have happened to the Latino community. We trusted him. For me, my brother died five years ago, and then 9/11, and now this. These are the three worst days of my life. (Anderson)

 

Kevin Chandler
FORMER DFL STATE SENATOR FROM WHITE BEAR LAKE, PARTY ACTIVIST

A few years back, at about two in the morning, my father passed away very suddenly. He and I were extremely close. From that time on, my family and I were up and gathered around the kitchen table. At about 10 in the morning, the phone rings and it's Paul Wellstone, calling to offer his condolences.

He told me he lost his dad a few years back, and thinks about him every day, and he knew what I was going through. He wanted to make sure I knew if I needed anything I should call him. He was a politician of the first order, but beyond that he was a compassionate person.

In 1992, when I was running for the state senate, Paul brought his bus, loaded with volunteers, on one of the final days of the campaign. It was a driving snow. I got up on a chair in the office to rally the volunteers, saying we've got to go out and drop [campaign literature]. I introduced Paul, and got off the chair, and offered it to him. And he said, "Nah, I don't need the chair." There he was, five-foot-five. He spent the day dropping literature.

People forget, politics is an extremely personal business. But of all the politicians I've met, Paul Wellstone was the only one I knew that really cared about me. Sometimes you meet people and they're nice to you, but you're not sure if they really care. Paul really did. So did Sheila. I would go to Washington, he would come running out and give me a hug. Paul was with me when I was on top of my political game, and Paul was with me when I was in the trash heap. He never wavered. Never thought twice. (Mosedale)

 

Jim Guyette
HEAD OF THE UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS LOCAL P-9 DURING THE HORMEL STRIKE

I didn't really know who he was. He was a college professor who wanted to know if he could address our membership. We were embroiled in a strike with the Hormel Company.

Our membership meetings were always packed. I remember a guy getting up, and we had a tall podium, and he could barely see over it, but what a powerful impact he made upon our membership. I just remember leaning over, saying to Pete Winkels, "Who is this guy?" Because he made a giant impression. He was somebody who could articulate where people were coming from, especially the poor and the working class and the disenfranchised. He certainly understood our issues and was able to articulate them very well. Needless to say, he got a standing ovation.

His support never faltered. Our membership was democratic and we had several votes on whether to take the company's final offer and go back to work, and it was something the membership didn't agree to do. He certainly respected that.

Paul Wellstone was a friend, and he was a friend when we needed a friend. He's been a friend to working people throughout the country. I don't know anyone in America who can champion the cause as well as he could. He was a populist in the true sense of the word.

I don't think Paul was your consummate politician who looked at this like it was going to be his life's work. He approached it like he's going to do as much as he can in the time that he has. People like that are hard to find today. I think it's part of the reason that Governor Ventura has been so popular, maybe more popular outside of Minnesota. They're people that run for a different reason. They run because they want to make a difference. (Demko)

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