Every Goodbye Ain't Gone

Wellstone Remembered

 

Amy Klobuchar
HENNEPIN COUNTY ATTORNEY

In this last campaign, I remember him having trouble in parades, not being able to run like he used to. People had gained so much from his energy in the past that at these parades they'd kind of run up behind him and sweep him along. Because he couldn't run, people ran for him. (Anderson)

 

Bob Tracy
PUBLIC POLICY DIRECTOR, MINNESOTA AIDS PROJECT, MINNEAPOLIS

Yesterday [Friday] when we were having our staff gathering, the thing that really stuck with me is that I can't imagine another AIDS Walk without him.

At this year's AIDS Walk I had a cart ready for him to take to the end of the park, because I noticed last year that it was hard for him to walk across the park to greet people as they left. So I had the cart ready, and was talking to Sheila about it, and she said, Don't mention that to him, don't let him see that. And without another word, I understood what she was saying--that Paul Wellstone was going to show the same strength of character and courage that he saw in those he was serving that day. He walked almost every corner of that park and back again to thank those who were participating. (Schimke)

 

Dean Barkley
STATE OF MINNESOTA PLANNING DIRECTOR

I've never seen a guy with so much passion in politics in my life. I always remember running against him [in the 1996 Senate race] and the debates. That's how I got to know him, in all of those debates.

One night in St. Cloud, we're having a debate and I begin my opening remarks by saying, "To my right is Rudy Boschwitz, who loves PAC money and takes as much PAC money as he can. And to my left is Paul Wellstone, who hates PAC money, and takes as much PAC money as he can."

After the debate he came right over and called me out. I couldn't believe how he just wouldn't let it go, and he really let me know about it. I couldn't believe how personally he took my jab. But he knew I had something. He hated big money in politics, but by then he knew he needed it to stay in the game.

Another debate that year we were having in Bemidji, and I had a conflict in the Cities and didn't think I could make the five-hour drive in time to make the debate. So I was gonna pull out. Paul heard about it and he offered me a ride in his plane. He came and picked me up, and we rode to the debate together. He always understood that sort of inclusion was necessary, and that it made him look good. Still, I thought it was quite a gesture. Same kind of plane as today [the crash], sure. Same kind the governor rides around in. The King Air.

There will not be another like him. He's one of those unique characters who pop up every once in a great while. He's the heart and soul of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, and where they go now I don't know. (Anderson)

 

Jesse Ventura
GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA

I'd just pulled into the driveway at home and my driver got the phone call with the news. It was a blow, as I'm sure it was for everyone else.

When I leave here, these events on the capitol steps are going to be the thing I remember. It seems we're always out here talking about a tragedy. 9/11 and now this. Some day we ought to have an event out here that's just fun, that's a celebration.

I guess one of the things I thought of today was that I used to fly all over the place in planes just like the one he was in, back when I was wrestling; Paul was a wrestler, too, of course--an amateur wrestler. We had a Piper Navajo, and we'd fly all the way to Denver and Ottawa in that thing. You know how they call the president's plane Air Force One? Well, we used to call that thing "Suicide One." We'd say, "Who's on Suicide One tonight?" And off you'd go, headed for the next town. I flew so much in those things it's amazing. I flew in planes like that in the service as well, but the truth is they're really outstanding planes, absolutely safe.

My wife wasn't home when we got the news, and I knew she was going to be shook up, so we waited for her to get back before we left and came down to the capitol. I knew Paul well enough; I'd known him since the days when I was the mayor of Brooklyn Park, and we used to run into each other at community meetings. He was a dedicated servant for the people of Minnesota, and you had to admire the way he stood up for what he believed in.

I don't like to get caught up in all the talk about legacies. A legacy is something personal, something to me that people look at in their own right. As I've been telling people today, I'll always remember Paul on Veterans Day, because I knew when I went out to the VA hospital at Fort Snelling that I was going to see him there. I don't think there was ever a time when I went out there that I didn't run into him. (Zellar)

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