WASHINGTON – A high stakes Senate race demands high-profile assistance, and in the case of Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman's bid against Democratic former Vice President Walter Mondale, the assistance can't be high profile enough.
Vice President Dick Cheney swept into Minnesota on Friday to stump for Coleman. He was the first of a trio of White House VIPs visiting the state that just lost Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife and daughter and three campaign workers in a plane crash last Friday. Mondale will replace Wellstone on the ballot on Tuesday.
First lady Laura Bush and President Bush will make separate trips this weekend to support Coleman's campaign.
Coleman appeared to be buoyed by the support on Friday.
"I know it's going to take hard work," he said in a campaign rally. "Minnesotans know they don't get anything for nothing. They expect you to earn it. I'm ready to work."
Meanwhile, Mondale pressed on with his state bus tour, holding a string of town hall-style meetings, reminding crowds of Wellstone along the way.
"I'm here carrying on for Paul Wellstone," he said.
The former vice president said the meetings are essential before he can debate Coleman. The first debate is tentatively scheduled for Monday.
"Of all times ... Minnesotans do not need a political dog fight right now," he said, calling for campaign courtesy.
His call seemed linked to a nixed ad by the Minnesota Republican Party showing Mondale with President Jimmy Carter juxtaposed with the gas shortages, high mortgage rates and defense spending cuts that highlighted their administration during the late 1970's.
The party decided not to air the ad after it was deemed too negative. Meanwhile, Mondale hit the air with his own advertisements and Minnesota unions began to run negative ads portraying Coleman as too cozy with corporations.
Coleman did raise a lot of this money through corporations, but Mondale has plenty of corporate connections too. He sat on several corporate boards and was a partner of a major Minneapolis law firm; positions he resigned when he became a candidate in this campaign.
Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota savaged the ads that didn't run, but did not mention the union ad. On Friday, Dayton was set to announce that the Democratic Party was ready to air another ad teeing off the Republican ad that didn't run, but that was canceled after the Republicans pulled their ad.
Two years ago, Dayton's campaign bought up much of the available airtime, preventing his opponent Sen. Rod Grams from buying equal time. Dayton went on to win that election with only 49 percent of the vote.
Fox News' Steve Brown contributed to this report.