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In 2002, Rick Kahn turned Wellstone memorial into political rally

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An Honor Guard walks across the stage during a public memorial service.
An Honor Guard walks across the stage during a public memorial service, Tuesday, Oct. 29 2002, in Minneapolis for U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife, daughter and three staff members who died Oct. 25, in a plane crash in Eveleth, Minn.
Chris Polydroff | St. Paul Pioneer Press via AP 2002

This speech first aired in October 2002.

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This month marks the 15th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Senator Paul Wellstone and seven other people. That tragedy came just 11 days before voters were set to decide whether Wellstone or Republican challenger Norm Coleman would represent Minnesota in the Senate for the next six years. 

Four days after the crash, a memorial service for the victims was held at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. During the service, which was carried live on Minnesota Public Radio, campaign treasurer Rick Kahn spoke on behalf of his close friend.

"I'm sure that more than anything else he would want me to talk about the future, about where he would want us to go from here," Kahn said. "And I can still hear that strong, clear voice calling to me that it is now our time to stand up for the people he fought for."

At the time of the service, the DFL was preparing to announce that former Vice President Walter Mondale would replace Wellstone on the ballot. In the last portion of his speech, Kahn repeated a specific plea to everyone in attendance, including Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad.

"He needs you now, I am begging you please, let the people of this state hear your voice on his behalf to keep his legacy alive and help us win this election for Paul Wellstone," he said.

Kahn repeated the phrase "win this election for Paul Wellstone" a dozen times. Gov. Jesse Ventura walked out of the service before it was over and said he was "disgusted" that the memorial was being used as a political rally. 

Republicans also criticized the tone of the service and Wellstone's campaign manager apologized. Seven days later, Norm Coleman was elected to the U.S. Senate.