10/23/08

AP, Star Tribune: Former MN Republican Governor Arne Carlson Endorses Barack Obama

We look back nostalgically to the good old days (pre Jesse Ventura) when there was a semblance of normalcy in Minnesota state government.

This bit of good news is welcome. Citing Michelle Bachman as a factor, Governor Arne Carlson has crossed over party lines to jump on the Barack Obama bandwagon.
Carlson, ex-GOP Minn. governor, backs Obama

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Arne Carlson, a former Republican governor in Minnesota, has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Carlson said Thursday that the Illinois senator's stances on the Iraq war, the economy and green energy goals won him over. Carlson, who served from 1991 to 1998, also cited recent comments by GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann questioning whether politicians have "pro-America or anti-America views."

"Regardless of our party, regardless of our partisan inclinations, there is no interest more compelling than the interest in the well-being of the United States," Carlson said at a gathering of Obama supporters at the state Capitol.

Carlson added, "He has laid out for this nation a vision for a national purpose."

Carlson was considered a moderate Republican during his two terms in office. This isn't the first Democrat he has backed for political office. He said he considers himself "a Republican maverick."

Minnesota's current governor, Tim Pawlenty, is a strong supporter of GOP hopeful John McCain. Carlson said he wasn't approached about endorsing McCain or asked to remain neutral.
The Star Tribune adds more detail to the motivations behind Carlson's endorsement:
"I think we have in Barack Obama the clear possibility of a truly great president," he said. "I would contend that it's the most important election of my lifetime."

Carlson also took aim at Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, saying that her controversial remarks of the past week, suggesting Obama may have anti-American views, had led him to endorse the Democratic nominee. After hearing Bachmann's comments, Carlson said he telephoned former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Minnesota Democrat, to tell him of his plan.

At one point, Carlson compared Bachmann's statements to the tactics of Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator during the 1950s who helped define an era when the patriotism of many Americans was publicly questioned.

"I don't want Minnesota to continue to be seen in the national picture as some sort of a land that has these rather strange views -- we don't," he said.

The former governor said Obama's policies on the Iraq war, economic issues facing the middle class and alternative energy solutions meshed with his own views. "I think the disappointing part of the McCain campaign has been its inability to develop a national vision," he said.

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