By CP Staff
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Chris Parker
By Jesse Marx
By John Baichtal
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Jesse Marx
By Olivia LaVecchia
DRIVER OF WELLSTONE'S GREEN BUS
This is a great bus. I've been driving it since about the middle of the first campaign--I wasn't the first one, but I've been here ever since then. It works great now. It used to break down in the early days, but now I kind of work for Schmitty and Sons in Lakeville. They take care of all the maintenance for me, and it hasn't been breaking down for years.
I was going to take the bus to Duluth today and pick him up, but now he's gone.
There's all sorts of great things about this bus. I put this green phone by the driver's seat, and then that white one on the table there. I always say, "The green phone calls the senator's office and the white phone calls the White House." They don't, of course. They're not hooked up to anything. And there's all these pictures. This one back here is my grandson, Ian Robert Scott. That's from the first campaign, and he was excited to be holding the Wellstone banner. He died when he was 15, in an auto crash. He'd be about 24 now. I look up at the funeral, and there's a senator of the United States. Can you believe that?
They told me not to speak to anyone today, but I'm talking about the bus. As long as we just talk about the bus, we're okay. It's all about the bus. The bus and us. These are things I always say.
There's a picture of the senator on his first bus trip. Look how young he was. You know, whenever we'd stop at a service station, Paul would get out and do the windshield for me. All the greats have been on this bus. Someday I'll make a list. Mondale's here today, he's been on the bus. My favorite time was once, in the second campaign, we came back to the bus and there was seven dollars with a note attached under the wiper. It said, "Hey, put some gas in."
I've been driving all my life, buddy. I'm 70 now, but I used to drive for Greyhound, and I still do some Gray Line Tours. I officially retired in 1989. But I really liked this one the most, this tour with Wellstone. I was going to take the whole week off because I wanted to be with Paul. That's how I ended up here at headquarters, just to make a stop before I drove up. But I'm getting kind of sick of it all, watching these people out there, and I'd just like to go home.
They picked it up somewhere in Fridley. It was blue then. They originally had beds in here, but I tore 'em all out. Or I should say my son did. You don't do anything by yourself here. You all work on the bus. The cabinets came with the vehicle. I picked up these couches for this campaign, and my son Larry Scott put them in here, and he built that table.
But we gotta keep talking about the bus. I'm not supposed to talk to anybody, buddy. Please don't say anything derogatory about the bus.
Lean Green Political Machine, somebody called it, and it stuck. That and "The Warrior." But to me, it was always the senator who was the warrior. It's the end of an era for me, I guess. End of my career. I wish I could say something fitting for his death, but I can't. He was a little giant. Many people didn't know that, but I did. Now the little giant's gone. You can quote me on that.
That picture there is from when Bill Clinton came to the Target Center. They told me I couldn't park in front of it on the street, but I said, Screw it. Make 'em tow the green bus. When Clinton saw it, he kind of jumped up and down for the bus, so I honked for him.
See, there's all these good pictures here, and I try to hang up as many as I can. I love this one of Paul and Sheila together. I've never seen folks so close. Yesterday, he calls me. "Paul!" he shouts at me, and then, "This is Paul," like I don't know who it is. Anyway, "Paul," he says, "come and pick me up at my house." And I say, "Oh, I can't do that, I'm at the capitol." Kind of playing with him. But I did. I did go pick him up.
Jesus, these people keep comin'. Look at them out there. Don't they know I want to go home and have a good cry? I don't like to cry in front of people. I just want to get home so I can do that. (Anderson)
1990 WELLSTONE CAMPAIGN MANAGER
I remember the famous bus ride to Washington. He was on his way to getting sworn in. Lots of people wanted to be part of the bus ride going in, but nobody wanted to bring that rascal home. There were five of us who did, and it was the bus ride from hell. We left Washington in the morning--not great weather, no TV, nothing to do. And I remember getting into Ohio in early evening in heavy snow with sparks starting to pop out of the engine. We pulled into a roadside rest stop and a mechanic banged out a few things. We made it to just outside of Gary, Indiana, and the same thing happened--sparks. It was snowing harder by then and it was about one in the morning. We are starting to get uptight. And then just past Comiskey Park, the engine absolutely explodes into flames.
At that point none of us had volunteered to become the captain who went down with the ship. There was a young guy named Robert Richmond from Chicago with us, and I said to Robert, "We are getting the hell out of here, we are renting a van and going home. You're from here. You've got five years to get this thing back to Minnesota." We rented a van and Robert got the thing fixed and back to Minnesota in about two weeks. But I remember my conversation with Paul the next day, telling him, "Son of a bitch, it was all hype and glory on the way out, but we were catching fire on the way home." Paul laughed and said, "That was your problem, not mine. The bus was fine when I was on it."
Flash forward to last Thursday, the day before he died. Paul hadn't seen our nine-year-old daughter Grace since last summer and we saw him at a campaign event. And he told us, "You really need to realize what a beautiful daughter you have." That was our last conversation and it was pure Paul. (Robson)
LONGTIME SUPPORTER AND FUNDRAISER
My husband Sam and I met Paul in 1990. A friend who was associated with a lot of left causes brought Paul up to Sam's office. Everybody thought he was a maverick, and far too left, and nobody took him seriously. At first, we were very skeptical. But we were blown away by his energy and his enthusiasm. We became the first people who wore ties and suits--people who had some wherewithal--to support Paul. In that sense, I think we gave him some legitimacy. In the first campaign, when he still lived in Northfield, he stayed in our house. We had the Paul Wellstone bedroom. He was a great guy to have around--always wonderful to our dog. But he was very intense, and he could be intensely angry as well as intensely happy. He'd get up in the morning and he'd turn on the TV and read the paper, and he would be furious that they wouldn't cover the important things. We have a new house that we built on the river. It's large. We always tell people we built it so we could have better fundraisers for Paul Wellstone. (Mosedale)
MINNEAPOLIS PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER, WELLSTONE'S DRIVER ON THE 1990 CAMPAIGN
I haven't smoked a cigarette in two years and I bought a pack yesterday.
What happened was, back in the '80s I had been diagnosed with cancer. I was living in Austin, Texas, and I was working in advertising down there. When I got diagnosed I told my mom. You call up and you give 'em the bad news. And Mom said, I don't know what you're doing down there. Come back. You're home, you've got these people around you, and you can go to the Mayo Clinic.
So I came back to do that, to go to the Mayo Clinic, and I happened to come back in the middle of the strike. So here I am driving back and forth to the Mayo Clinic, and I've got my days free and all this stuff is happening and my dad is involved. He ran the Spam cooker for a good many years. So I wander down to the union hall a couple times with him, and pretty soon I start getting caught up in it.
I can just remember [Wellstone] going up and grabbing the microphone. He went into one of his famous stump speeches. At the time I was so disconnected from politics that I was more, "Who the hell is this guy?" But I listened to him. There was something about what he said that kind of moved me. I wish I could put it into words. I went up and introduced myself to him. We started talking and I told him about my dad. He immediately wanted to know everything about me. It was question, question, question. That really took me aback. He was just so friendly and so jovial. That's what they say about him now, but it was genuine.
He was an outsider to some of the meatpackers. To the leaders of the strike and to the people that were calling the shots, he wasn't an outsider. He was already involved with a lot of things. Ray Rogers of Corporate Campaign knew him. So he had a stature among those folks. That's how he was involved in it. I'm sure that's why he was able to get the microphone. He had a following.
It was during the Reagan years, so there was an all-out attack on working people. That was a time of union busting. Reagan started it off with the air traffic controllers, and that was a signal to big business and industry that they had a friend in the White House, that they could go out and break unions. There were people, men and women, who had worked there for 20, 25, 30 years, given their whole lives to the company. And the company was paying them back because they were angry at Jim Guyette. Now, hindsight is 20/20, you can look back and say Jim made some mistakes. But these men and women were not lemmings. They didn't blindly follow this man off a cliff. It was a very democratic process. The information was given to them and it was never about money. It was about work rules. My father, who served in World War II and was wounded and raised seven kids and went to work every day, had to raise his hand to go to the bathroom. That's ridiculous.
There was stuff happening that never got reported, children going hungry that never got reported. And these guys wouldn't cross the picket line because they had gone out together. When Perpich sent in the National Guard, it basically broke the strike. That's when my politics changed. That's when I knew that the justice system that I thought was there was not there. And Paul was a voice for justice. Those two things connected with me: Paul's voice and what happened to me in Austin.
After the strike ended in '86, it was just three years later that Paul decided to run for United States Senate. When he announced at the Sabathani Center in south Minneapolis I was there with Karen Clark, who was a state rep. There was another state rep there, but you looked around and there was not even a handful of regular DFLers. The rest were Carleton College kids.
It never crossed my mind that we were going to lose. Never. Because Paul believed we were going to win. Paul believed in people. He believed in the fundamental goodness of people. Obviously he won with grassroots and some luck, with the screwups of Boschwitz, with the good-Jew-versus-bad-Jew thing at the end. But Paul never let you believe we were gonna lose. There was no question that we were gonna win this race. There was no question that he was saying the right things and doing the right things.
I drove him day in, day out. From one end of the state to another. We had a Mercury Sable. It was a rental car. His back just couldn't take the bus. We were out every day right up until the last two weeks of the campaign. He started doing a lot more flying around the state then. That's another thing that I get to take credit for is the bus driver. I hired him. Paul Scott. We were looking for somebody to volunteer to drive the bus, and this was shortly after the Greyhound strike and they had fired all these workers. So I called the union hall and got his name and asked if he would come and do it, and he said, Absolutely.
There were a lot of times before he showed up that I spent hours underneath that bus. Broke down, broke down, broke down. While I was in the campaign we put two engines in it. One time we broke down between Rochester and Minneapolis and ended up getting an engine from a place down there and putting it in down there. That lasted about a month, or less, before that engine blew up. Luckily they went through the whole thing after the election, I think. Fixed it up somewhat. It was too hard for Paul to ride in that all the time. It was such a hard ride. If there'd be a short hop, Duluth to Cloquet, he would ride the bus. Paul Wellstone would get in it, have a campaign stop in Duluth, and then he'd just stay on it and ride over to Cloquet in it. But if we were going long distances, he'd ride with me.
The campaign was the greatest time of my life. Paul was--I'll be honest, Paul had a horrible temper. Don't get lost [laughs]. Don't get lost. You take a wrong turn? Big mistake. It was imperative that you studied that map and that you knew exactly where you were going. When he was one place, you better be on the phone getting exact directions to get to the next place, because he'd have a temper if you made a wrong turn. In fact I've never heard anybody yell like that. But that was part of his passion, too. When you're passionate, you can have a temper. That's what happens when you're passionate about anything. So he was a tough son of a bitch too. I'm not kidding you. He was a tough son of a bitch.
When you're way the hell up in northern Minnesota, you take one wrong turn and you could be five miles down the road before you realize it, before you see another sign. Sometimes that would put you 10 minutes or 15 minutes late getting someplace and it was key to be at places on time because you didn't want to piss off any of the union members up there who had come to see you. That was your base.
I remember in Hibbing, a schoolteacher we stayed with. His name was Gabe Brisbois. I remember going to see him, and Paul and me talking about it: "This is the guy. This is the guy you gotta see. This is the guy that's gotta give you your pat on the back up in the Iron Range." And I don't know this guy. I'm thinking, Jeez, we're going to some Mafia-type guy's place. He's going to kiss you on the cheek and everything's going to be great. Just the nicest guy in the world. Turns out he's a schoolteacher up there. We ended up, we stayed at his house a couple of times overnight. It was important that Gabe got on our side and started calling the right people and saying, "Look, this is our guy. This is the guy we have to get behind." That solidified the Iron Range.
I didn't support myself during that time. I had a girlfriend. I was living with her and she was working. When I was involved in it, she just let me keep going.
It was absolutely worth it. I'll never forget the experiences we had, the wonderful people we met, the sons of bitches we sometimes met. But after that first commercial came out--Fast-Paced Paul--things changed. It was like day and night. People's reactions to him and the bus, it happened overnight. All of a sudden there was this connection.
I can tell you this. There was a faction in the office that believed you needed to moderate a position here or there so you don't piss somebody off. He never listened to that advice. Sometimes he ignored good advice, but he never pulled his punches and he never changed.
I saw both sides of Paul. I got to see the side that gets angry and upset, not just the friendly side. I still loved him. Paul created this thing with people where they wanted to talk with him. They wanted to be recognized by him. It was something about his personality. You'd go out to the State Fair and he'd be standing there and there'd be a line of 50 people. None of them would be there to say, I want my taxes lowered. They'd all be there to say, Hey, Paul, remember me? And 90 percent of the time, he'd go, "Yeah, I do remember you. I met you in Podunk, Minnesota." There was a connection he made to the regular person. That was not something that you could get from a Walter Mondale. You wouldn't see a whole bunch of blue-collar workers lined up to talk to him. (Demko)
POLITICAL AD/MEDIA CONSULTANT, CREATOR OF THE TV SPOTS THAT HELPED TO ELECT WELLSTONE IN 1990
When we did the Looking for Rudy commercial, there were only four of us along on the shoot--me and Paul and the camera guy and the sound guy. And it was kind of a scary situation--you go barging into somebody's campaign headquarters and it's bound to be tense trying to get in past the campaign workers and the young Republican bouncers. But by the time we were done, they were laughing and joking with him. I always swore we got at least one vote there. Maybe more. I'd bet a million dollars on it.
He was so good on his feet. There was a genuineness about him that the camera picked up and people picked up. It's powerful stuff when people these days can listen to a politician and believe him.
His legacy? He re-energized populism at a time when nobody really thought populism was a good or a viable thing. If Paul hadn't won in 1990, I don't think there would have been a Russ Feingold or a Jesse Ventura. He got people excited about the idea that if you work hard and you believe, then sometimes the impossible is possible. I know we couldn't have elected Jesse if Wellstone hadn't won in '90. Without his example, the "wasted vote" argument would have stuck. I'm not sure there would have been a Ross Perot or a Ralph Nader without Paul.
At Carleton he was always an agitator. He organized people in the food services there. He organized farmers on the power line thing. I remember him telling students that their duty in his class was to go out and organize. In his view it had nothing to do with what you were learning in the classroom; it had everything to do with what you were learning on the streets. I was from Chicago, I'd seen what happened in '68, and the things Paul was about all seemed futile to me at first.
When he decided to run for the Senate, he and Mike Casper came to my ad agency in Butler Square. He didn't like advertising, didn't understand it. He was all about shoe leather and organizing. I remember he spent most of his time looking down during the meeting. Finally he looks up and says, I understand you need advertising to run for the Senate. And he says, Well, you're the only guy I know in advertising. That's how I got hired. Later I put together a meeting of 25 or 30 of the best advertising people in town in Sam Kaplan's law office. Paul comes in and starts talking to this group of mostly apolitical people, and by the end he had them all. People were ready to run through brick walls for him.
We would fight with each other a lot. The first time he saw Fast-Paced Paul, it was the worst presentation of my career. It was him and [Pat] Forciea and maybe [John] Blackshaw, and we were showing it to him in a movieola, where only one person can look at a time. Paul looks at it and his face is like, This is a joke, right? Where's the real ad? They didn't want to run it.
He refused to get haircuts on principle. We used to try to get him to get haircuts before shoots, and he wouldn't do it. It went back to the '60s thing--you didn't cut your hair because somebody told you to. He was so proud that Sheila cut his hair. He thought it was great he wasn't spending $20 on a haircut. It was a point of pride. And he'd wear these muscle shirts all the time. He was proud of his wrestler's physique; he'd wear tight tees and short sleeves. He liked to show off his arms. It was a battle to get him to put on a sports coat.
I've been a very vocal critic of his since '96. I guess--I think he changed, that he took some politically motivated votes. But by and large, when he wasn't campaigning, he did what he said he was going to do. No matter what the cost was. When you saw a 97-3 vote in the Senate, you could bet money Paul was going to be on the short end of that. The New York Times called him "the conscience of the Senate" in an editorial. He cast that vote against welfare reform in '96, I remember, and I hated the spot we did about it. But I admired Paul for casting that vote in an election year. Like the Iraq vote this year. There were points at which he just said, No, this is what I'm going to do, and I don't care if it costs me the election. (Perry)
CARLETON COLLEGE PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF HISTORY AND LIBERAL ARTS
Paul never changed, from beginning to end. His energy was absolutely astonishing. But he was not an academic, even at the beginning. He wouldn't go to faculty meetings. He wouldn't take part in the sort of formal dimensions of collegiate membership. He wasn't in some senses very collegial. For him a chance to teach was a chance to get people who were young, who might be looking for a point in their lives, and help them discover who they were and what they thought.
I remember the things people did, particularly people who were opposed to him, more than I remember particular things that Paul did. He was turned down for tenure in 1973 or 1974. What I remember is that during the course of that, the president's secretary--either on orders or on her own--went over to Rice County with a dark scarf and dark glasses on and went into the welfare office over there. It was as if she was trying to dig up some stuff about Wellstone. Very bizarre. I haven't any idea what effect it had on the process. But Paul was turned down for tenure and he appealed.
The whole thing was turned over to a panel of off-campus evaluators who then awarded him tenure. [Carleton president Howard] Swearer just rankled. He wrote a letter to the community denouncing it. It was an Oh my God, you've tenured this impossible person who we're just going to have to live with kind of letter. What [Paul] remembers--in fact, I believe it's what he put into the book--is that he won this because of the outpouring of student support. Surely, there was student support for him, but he didn't win it because of student support. There weren't students out rioting in the streets, which seemed to be the way that Paul remembered it. But there was strong student support for Paul.
He had some good friends among the faculty, but he was not really a member of the Carleton faculty in the same way that a lot of us were. He wasn't particularly popular in that way. I think it was because he really made it very clear that he had an agenda and a point to his life and his work that was outside the campus. Most of the people on the faculty came to think of him as somebody running his own show. Some of the people in his own department were among the ones most opposed to him.
When he did the campaign for Senate in 1990, the press didn't pay any attention. His announcement was buried on page four of the Star Tribune. He simply could not get the attention of anybody. And the fact is that except for Norm Vig, Mike Casper, and Sy Schuster, nobody around here thought he had any business doing it either. And those of us who were good friends of his for a long, long time--we thought this was quixotic as hell.
Just about everybody I know at Carleton on the faculty had greater or lesser disagreements with Paul. Paul was a polarizing kind of guy. One time or another, just about everybody parted company with him on some issue. Mike Casper and Sy Schuster might be the only exceptions. He was not an easy colleague always, but when it came to supporting him for the U.S. Senate, the Carleton faculty must have been about 98 percent in favor of him. (Tortorello)
WELLSTONE CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER
In 1990 I was working very hard trying to get people registered to vote. And the day after the election I went over to the precinct polling place to see how the African-American vote had gone. And I was disappointed, because I am from the state of Mississippi, where we did not have the right to vote, and where my grandmother tried to organize African Americans to vote, and in fact she did. But ultimately she was murdered because of this. She paid the ultimate price for her efforts there. And I saw [Wellstone] there and told him what I was thinking about the African-American vote and he said, "Don't be sad. I surely understand why some people who have been mistreated--and are still in some ways being mistreated--I understand why they think the political process doesn't work. But," he said, "we won't give up. We will keep working." And I do know for a fact that Paul worked for people whether they donated money or not. Because he said he realized people making minimum wages had no money.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
DFL PARTY CHAIR FOR MINNESOTA'S FOURTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
This summer I was on the bus managing Greg Gray's [state auditor] campaign, and spirits were very high because Greg had just won the DFL endorsement. We were all really on our way up, riding around Minneapolis in the bus. Paul took Greg under his wing, and the passion rubbed off on Greg. Paul loved to help younger candidates.
Mary McEvoy and Sheila and Marcia were always there, and I remember saying to Mary, "Sheila and Marcia look like sisters." And Sheila would laugh and be so gracious--she still had a little Southern accent and she was so charming. Mary has a little Southern accent, too, and the three of them all got along so great. I knew, when I heard, that Mary was in that plane.
Mary was never well known with the public. I loved her. Mary was a rising star to many of us. A lot of us in the [DFL] party saw her becoming a candidate herself someday. She was so committed to public service. All of them in that bus were. That was really, at the end of the day, the true thing about Paul. It's hard to think who's gonna pick up the torch now. Mary could have done it. It's hard to see her not reach the level of public service she could have. (Anderson)
DFL STATE REPRESENTATIVE MINNEAPOLIS (DISTRICT 58B), RECENT CANDIDATE FOR STATE AUDITOR
First off, I can't say Paul Wellstone without saying Sheila. They epitomized the ideal of the political team. You'd never see one without the other. My campaign swing with Paul and Sheila on the green bus in southern Minnesota, after I won the DFL endorsement--that's a time in my life I'll never forget. It's not just the campaign that everybody sees that really counts. It's the time in between. There's a lot of down time. There's time with the family. There's the time on the road, with not much going on. There's the fights, won and lost. Family. That's what was on the bus.
There were people who loved him and people who hated him. But he believed in public service for the greater good. Paul, Sheila, Mary McEvoy, Will, Marcia, Lapic. All of them believed it. In his previous campaign against Boschwitz, the second time, my wife and I were sitting on a porch at friend's house in north Minneapolis. I was still new to politics, and Paul was there, and I said, "Paul, why do you put up with this?" The attacks on him seemed so personal. He got that look in his eye and he started yelling: "I'm not gonna let those folks run Minnesota, and I'm not gonna let them define me. I'm gonna fight him, and I'm gonna fight and fight." That's the legacy of Paul Wellstone. You fight. I can still see the fight in his eyes, even tonight. (Anderson)
ST. PAUL GREYHOUND STATION EMPLOYEE>
I was on the bus coming in to work from Dayton's Bluff, and the lady bus driver put it on over the intercom that she'd got a telephone call telling her that Paul Wellstone had died in a plane crash, and it was like somebody had just dropped a ball of glass right there on the floor. We were at Sixth and Cedar and there were maybe 12 people on the bus at the time, and just about everybody was shocked. It was totally quiet, and then a couple people cried out.
I was totally floored. I just felt really ripped off, you know? I've worked as a voter registration judge, and I've always been involved in a fair amount of political activity. I've been voting since I was old enough to, and I'd have to say that Wellstone was definitely a factor in my interest in politics. I consider myself a pretty independent-minded Democrat, but he's always got my vote.
I really don't think most of the people out there are totally aware how much they lost today. I went up to that little memorial deal at the capitol and I saw so many people just totally numbed out, all these stunned people who looked like they'd just had something ripped out of them and it hadn't really hit 'em yet.
I just always liked the way he stomped around on the campaign trail. He was definitely all about small-guy politics; that was obviously where his mindset was. I liked that a lot about him. I could relate to it. He wasn't a big-business type like Coleman.
That it happened so close to the election is especially vexing. Now any decisions are going to be mired in politics and in all sorts of other weird things. I'm a conspiracy theorist by nature, I'd have to say, and I'd like to think there was nothing fishy going on with this deal. But you know, the guy's been sick, he was sprayed in Colombia, so there's always going to be plenty of room if you want to be suspicious. I don't know what to think, to be honest with you. I really feel so much more than I could ever begin to say right now. (Zellar)
WELLSTONE STAFFER 1991-95, LONGTIME FRIEND, AND CURRENT CEO OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD
Losing him is really like losing a big part of my own heart. At the same time what is left of my heart is entwined with his and that will never die. Many people my age--I am 44--grew up as young adults with him as we began to hit our stride politically. We are like one unified person, all of us. And that is his legacy.
I remember in the last few months, my husband and I have had the privilege of being with Paul and Sheila a lot. We did two events last Saturday. I'm embarrassed to say I made a cynical remark about another DFL candidate, and Paul admonished me about that.
There was no separating the politician from the human being. Politicians will call political activists when there is a death or a personal problem. They'll do it to gain political advantage. But not him. When he stood on the Senate floor and gave a speech on behalf of those whose lives he was trying to make better, it was no different from when he picked up the phone and asked about their sick children, or when he suspended his campaign on Friday to attend Tommy [Rukavina's] dad's funeral. He didn't need those votes on the Iron Range. He already had them. He needed to be with Tommy because he needed to be with him.
When I was working for him I was the one who had to write his speeches. He would never use them. He would look in his briefing packet and then about five minutes before we got to where we were going he would say, "Okay, I have got to close my eyes and think." Then he would open them and say, "Okay." And he'd go bounding out of the car and hug and shake hands with about three-quarters of the people there and then go give this marvelous extemporaneous speech. He was full of joy. And he expressed it by talking about the most challenging issues in a way that created hope.
In our office we called him Pablo or Puffy for a while but then we just all called him Paul--or Paul-and-Sheila, like it was all one name. (Robson)
ST. PAUL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER
During the course of my campaign I got to know Paul and Sheila. I was an endorsed candidate, and so I ran a coordinated campaign with the Democratic Party. There were a number of things that the Party made possible, and Sheila in fact came to a number of fundraisers, by herself and entirely on her own. She would just show up at these meet-and-greets to support me. Sheila spoke up all the time about children's issues, early childhood family education, community wellness and health disparity issues. She was very sharp and very involved. It didn't matter how big or small the crowd was, she would give you everything she had.
Sheila was obviously a woman who sacrificed an awful lot in order to be a good partner to Paul, as well as a mother and grandmother. That can't be an easy life, and I'm sure along the way she wished she'd had more time to be with her family, but they also always made an effort to keep everybody with them and involved. She was an excellent role model for how to do it right. She paid attention to the important things. (Zellar)
FORMER MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL MEMBER AND TALK RADIO HOST
He came to the studio to be on my show when he was running for U.S. Senate, that first campaign. He was so unpolished. He was wearing earth shoes. But his rhetoric had me absolutely enraptured. I had heard of him before, when he was state auditor [sic], but I had never really heard him or met him before. He was really something. He had an amazing ability to move people with his speeches.
Paul Wellstone was never wishy-washy. Not once. He was a man of conviction. I'm proud to have known him and called him a friend. We always argued, but whenever he saw me, he would throw his arms open and take me in his arms and kiss me. Even though we were on different sides, I can say he was a friend to thousands.
I have to say, I was going to vote for Norm Coleman. I am going to vote for Norm Coleman. But I think Paul was probably going to win that race. He still had it in him. (Anderson)
FORMER MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL
When I was running for governor in 1982 he was running for state auditor, and I had a plane and Paul didn't have any money. So I used to take him with me on the plane all the time. And in those days I had to follow him to the lectern all the time because I was running for the higher office. I didn't like that much. He was always a tough act to follow.
I remember this time we were coming back on the plane and I was kidding him about the speech he had just given. I said, you know, "Paul, that was a great speech, but I didn't hear you say anything about the auditor's office. The auditor really doesn't have much to do with foreign policy so far as I know." And he laughed, and he said, "I don't know anything about accounting."
When I got the news I was at the Moe fundraiser over at the Wells Fargo building, and Ted Kennedy was there. Tom Borman introduced Roger, and he gave a nice talk. And then Mondale spoke and introduced Kennedy. It was a very upbeat deal. Everybody was telling stories and laughing. We were just wrapping up about 12:30 and people were leaving and heading back to work. And right about then somebody called over and gave the news to Roger Moe, and it was all downhill from there.
Mondale, Kennedy, Moe, and myself just went off into this room together. We were stunned and shocked, and then Kennedy really did a nice thing. He said, you know, we ought to go over to the Wellstone campaign headquarters and see if we can't offer a little bit of support. Kennedy was talking on the way over there, and he said, "You know, I've had my fill of those small planes." He was in a crash himself back in 1964 and he broke his back. There really wasn't much talk on the way over there.
We've really lost a lot here. There's some truth to all this talk that he was the conscience of the Senate. My wife and I were down to Washington the first part of September and we were at a reception at the capitol where we ran into Paul and Sheila, and so we went down to this dinner together. As we were walking back out, he said, "Hey, you wanna see my desk?" So we went over there to the Senate floor, and he showed us all the desks of all the different senators. His desk was all the way in the back. And the interesting thing was that they all have these little microphones there with the cords on 'em, and his cord was the longest one in the Senate so he could walk around and talk and do his thing.
I think we're going to have a short and--I hope--a pretty dignified race. I think Walter will do it. He's very conscientious about wanting to hold the seat for the Democrats. (Zellar)
DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STEELWORKERS, DISTRICT 11
I was a mill worker, a steelworker, and not a union official back when I met Paul. I worked rotating shifts in the mill and he was a wonderful friend because of what he believed. So I wrote him a hundred-dollar check for auditor back then [in 1982] and it just about knocked him off his feet that a laborer would do that. I never forgot how grateful he was. He understood how much trust people put in him and how they sacrificed in real ways for him. He knew that.
Paul and I had very similar problems in our family. Both his parents died of Parkinson's, as did my father. Paul was enormously thoughtful about how tragedies affect people. During my father's slow decline with Parkinson's he was always asking me how my father was doing and how he could lighten the load. And then he channeled that into fetal tissue research. Paul's brother suffered from schizophrenia, as did my brother. He constantly asked me how my brother's health was, and wanted to sit down with me and talk about ways families hurt by mental problems could better deal with it. It was such an easy step for him, from personal compassion to political organizing. That is such a rare mix in anybody. (Robson)
FORMER CHAIR, BELTRAMI COUNTY DFL
We saw quite a bit of him up here. He spent three nights at my house. I live on the Mississippi River and he liked to sit on the deck and watch the river go by. He seemed to really enjoy that.
I first met him in 1989. When he first ran for the Senate, my daughter was 10 years old. For some reason, she really took a liking to him. One night, just after Halloween, he was going to come over to dinner after a rally, and she was really excited. Anyway, he arrived late, like politicians often do, and my daughter was very disappointed. When he finally arrived, he wrote her a note. It said, "Dear Erin, Let's win and then let's do lunch!" After he was elected, she reminded him of the note, and sure enough the next time he came to Bemidji, he kept his promise to her and took us all out to lunch.
The last time he was here, I drove him to the airport. He told me he didn't like flying at all. He was nervous about that. But in his politics, he was fearless. And he didn't get the big head that so often comes along with successful politicians. It's just sad. The chances of getting a good populist in the United States Senate are slim. I don't know if it will ever happen again. (Mosedale)
When he first ran for state auditor in 1982, there he was talking about all sorts of things with his fiery rhetoric, screaming and jumping. Just carrying on about things that didn't have a whole lot to do with the auditor's office, but everything to do with Paul Wellstone.
We were at a parade in Gilbert four years ago, campaigning together, and I fell in a sewer. I just walked right up to an uncovered manhole and stepped in. I was having back troubles myself then, I had a ruptured disc, and I was in agony. Paul just kind of came up behind me and pulled me up, and we went on. He was saying, "Just walk it off, keep moving," so we did. (Anderson)
RETIRED CARLETON COLLEGE PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS
After a year or so [at Carleton], Paul stopped going to faculty meetings. He said he just couldn't stand this business of operating by parliamentary procedure. And I said, That's the way you do it. The reason I tell you this is that Paul at that stage in his life didn't like the idea of a senate--the faculty committee. He didn't join electoral politics for quite a while. When you're younger, sometimes you're more emotional and don't have patience. It might have been that.
Before he grew into electoral politics, he [led] an organization of welfare people, the Organization for a Better Rice County. We had lots of people [on welfare]; we still do. Mainly mothers who were abandoned and had kids to take care of, and then there were people who had jobs but were just poor. What he did was get a lot of these people together. He was really trying to organize welfare mothers. There were men in it, too. And he explained to these people, Now you don't have to be treated the way you're treated by the county commissioners. They thought that they were really being kicked around, and they were. It was just terrible. He was upset about that. And he said, We can use state law to appeal these decisions. So he started appealing for them--he showed them how to appeal--and he would run the appeals for a while. And they never lost a case. (Tortorello)
LONGTIME DFL ACTIVIST, RETIRED ENGLISH PROFESSOR AT BEMIDJI STATE UNIVERSITY
The first time I met Paul was when he ran for auditor. It was a brief encounter. He'd been up to Bemidji State to visit my husband, who was also a political scientist. As time went on, Paul was in Bemidji more and more. He and my husband and I got to be good friends. Three years ago, when my husband was in the hospital dying, Paul called the hospital to talk to him and me. He came up for the funeral, and he spoke about his relationship with my husband. It was a beautiful, moving tribute. My children and I will never forget that.
I had some relatives come to the funeral from North Dakota. They only knew about Paul in the vaguest way, but they were extremely impressed that at a man of that stature would come to the funeral of just an ordinary citizen. This was not the only funeral he attended and, obviously, this is why he's dead today: because he took one more trip to go to one more funeral. It breaks your heart. When he died all I could see in my mind's eye was him standing up at the front of the church and talking at my husband's funeral. I kept wishing that my husband knew that Paul came to his funeral.
My own activism has meant a great deal to me, and one of the reasons is Paul Wellstone. At my age, I've been saying a lot of goodbyes. This one is extremely painful. (Mosedale)
Mike and Nancy Casper
FRIENDS AND PARTNERS IN ACTIVISM WITH THE WELLSTONES
Nancy:It's hard to read the paper. We're absorbing the whole thing a little bit at a time.
Mike:Paul and Sheila and I all grew up within a mile of each other in Arlington, Virginia, but we didn't know each other then.
Nancy:Paul was best man at our wedding--August 25, 1979. And Paul, who just wasn't a suit guy, came to our wedding in an orange turtleneck and a heavy tweed jacket, a winter-weight jacket. And this was the heat of August. It may have been the only jacket he had.
Mike:That day he came rushing back from a meeting on power lines. We weren't sure he was going to make it on time.
He and Sheila were very, very close. To me she was the ultimate foundation. She took care of the money [laughs]. When Paul got to Washington, it was clear she was going to be very involved. And I think it was hard for her at first to balance it with family. They were very private about family, really. They didn't have lot of social life in Washington.
I spent a day on this campaign traveling with Paul on the green bus. We started in Minneapolis and moved north to Milaca and then to a powwow on French Lake. Paul loves to talk. Wherever he was, he would talk all day. (Perry)
Marie Zellar STATE DIRECTOR, MINNESOTA CLEAN WATER ACTION When I got the news, I was at lunch and our receptionist called me on my cell phone and it was kind of like one of those cheesy cell phone commercials where you can't quite hear people right. I thought he said that one of Wellstone's campaign plans had crashed, and I said, Which plan? A plan that we're a part of? What are you talking about? And he was like, "No, no, one of his planes crashed." We still didn't know then that he was on the plane, and I still sort of thought or hoped that there was a chance that he'd taken the car, because he hated to fly. I went back to the office and we immediately called all of our canvassing off, but all these people came in anyway just to be together. And we all just sat around and shared stories. You know how tough this business is, and how many people are always tempted to just walk away from it because it's ugly, and we're getting our asses kicked, and the legislative process sucks--sometimes you're just tempted to throw up your hands and go get a job at Burger King. But Paul wouldn't let you do that. He had an amazing ability to snap you out of that, and to help you to find your second or third or fourth wind. I mean, he's got MS, and he's got a horrible, chronically bad back and he's been doing this for 12 years, and still there he is bouncing all over your office. You don't hear a lot about the bad stuff he prevented from happening. There was an awful lot of time and energy he had to spend playing defense, and it goes way beyond the environment. He did some amazing stuff in terms of strategizing and stymieing things that were steamrolling ahead--things like rollbacks on enforcement authority for the EPA, ANWAR, giving federal authority back to the states, attacks on the Clean Water Act, energy packages, all sorts of stuff that even other environmental advocates in Congress had thrown up their hands over. He'd figure out some way to stop it, and he'd get everybody he needed on the same page to make sure it didn't happen. His legacy to me is that he really convinced me that I could do my job, when I really didn't believe that and nobody else had any reason to believe that. I had this ridiculous vision for what we wanted Clean Water Action to accomplish, and he convinced me that I wasn't completely insane. His whole thing was really just very old-fashioned politics--go out and talk to the people and build relationships at street level, and that's how you get things accomplished. Don't sit there and worry and wring your hands, just go out and do what needs to be done and what you know how to do. And call me if you need any help. (Zellar)