INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. – Republican Senate nominee Norm Coleman resumed his campaign Wednesday, crisscrossing the state in a small plane and targeting someone new: former vice president Walter Mondale.
Coleman took a 6:15 a.m. flight to this city on the Canadian border and made his way through snow showers to rally supporters at Barney's Family Restaurant.
Minnesotans need a senator with "energy and enthusiasm and vigor — and love," said Coleman, dressed casually with a flannel shirt and no tie.
"The challenge for the vice president is, what is his vision for the 21st century, and how does he expect to get it done?" Coleman said. "Nobody hands you anything."
All of this came before Democrats officially tapped Mondale as the replacement candidate for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone. But Coleman wasn't waiting — there is less than a week before the election and a new poll suggested he was already trailing Mondale.
During his campaign stops, the former St. Paul mayor said competing with Mondale is "like running against Mount Rushmore."
"I am running against an icon," he said.
Although Coleman openly questioned whether Mondale has the vision the state needs, he also repeated the themes that marked his campaign against Wellstone.
"This race is about growing jobs and cutting taxes," he said. And in a new TV ad, Coleman paid tribute to Wellstone, then emphasized jobs, education, family and "changing the tone in Washington."
He showed a playful side as he toured the restaurant, telling cooks of his days as a soda jerk in Brooklyn, N.Y., and using a boy's head to autograph a campaign T-shirt.
Nancy McHarg, a nurse who came to meet Coleman at the International Falls stop, said she wasn't impressed with Mondale.
"He has been out of circulation for a while," she said. "I'm not sure if he's up on the issues."
A worker who came to see Coleman in Thief River Falls, Diane Sundby, said she had planned to vote for Wellstone before his death. Sundby, 41, said she's now undecided and is concerned about Mondale's age.
"I'm just thinking younger is better," she said.