GOP targets Franken in mailer; Coleman condemns it

Candidates debate
U.S. Senate candidates Dean Barkley, Al Franken and Norm Coleman.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman is condemning a campaign mailer that uses cartoon images to criticize Democrat Al Franken's past attempts at humor.

The mailer, created by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, uses cartoon images to remind the reader about Franken's past jokes about rape and pornography.

Coleman's campaign manager Cullen Sheehan said Coleman e-mailed the head of the NRSC and asked that the political committee destroy any pieces that have not yet been mailed. Sheehan said Coleman had no role in the mailer, and wants an end to all negative campaign ads.

"It's not his mailer. He didn't produce it. He thinks the mailer is deplorable -- as deplorable as the current Franken radio ad and some of the other negative ads we've seen," said Sheehan. "The people of Minnesota are calling for a positive campaign and again, we agree with Congressman Ellison, Auditor Otto and the vice president. Let's end it all. So I hope that they would direct these comments back at the Franken campaign, the DSCC, the NRSC and all outside groups."

Democrats including former Vice President Walter Mondale, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and state Auditor Rebecca Otto called on Coleman today to go farther.

They say he should publicly apologize for his party's actions, and to also end his efforts to head the NRSC. Coleman has reportedly been seeking that post if he's re-elected.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)