CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Senator Paul Wellstone Killed in Plane Crash
Aired October 25, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live, from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I am Judy Woodruff. But today in Manchester, New Hampshire, we had come here today because we were going to report, give you an inside look at the tight Senate race in this state, but instead, as we have been reporting all this afternoon, we received word just a few hours ago, the sad news, of the death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone in a plane crash in his home state.
Senator Wellstone's wife, Sheila their daughter, Marcia, also died in the crash. Three of his staff members and two pilots were killed as well.
Senator Wellstone was en route to the funeral for the father of a state representative when the crash took place. He was in the middle of a hard-fought reelection campaign for a third term in the United States Senate.
There is nothing known at this point about the cause of that crash, but there was freezing rain and light snow in the area at the time that his plane went down.
Within the last hour, the comments and reactions from members of the Senate and so many others who knew Paul Wellstone have been pouring in. There was a news conference and comments held within the hour by Senator Ted Kennedy, who was in Minneapolis, had been campaigning with Paul Wellstone just yesterday. With him, former vice president and Minnesota native, Walter Mondale.
Here's what both of them had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER MONDALE, FMR VP., MINN. SEN: Paul Wellstone was one of the most valiant public servants and leaders I've ever known. He had a very good mind, but he also had an honest mind. And he served what he believed in no matter what the challenge. He also had a great heart. And he fought all of those years, right up until this morning, to help change this country and protect the decent spirit of our nation.
And he had something else. He had his wife, Sheila. And together they made one of the most impressive public couples in America. They had a wonderful family. And together, they helped this state and all of us so much. I think if Paul were here, he'd want us to think about one thing and that is to carry on the fight that he led with such brilliance and courage over all of these years. And Paul and Sheila, we intend to do that.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: All of us who knew of Paul Wellstone, Sheila, Marcia, are devastated today.
Paul Wellstone had a passion for the good things for people. And he expressed it brilliantly on the floor of the United States Senate and here in Minnesota.
He was a man of enormous ability. But most of all, he was a caring person. He was really a special person, a very unique man. And I think, as has been said, all of us admired this fight. We admired him in many fights, but we admired this fight. He was coming to the people of Minnesota that he loved and he wanted their support so he could go and return to the United States Senate and fight for them. We'll miss you, Paul, and we'll never forget you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Those comments just a short time ago from Senator Edward Kennedy, who, as we said, was campaigning with Paul Wellstone just yesterday, and also from Walter Mondale, the former vice president.
President George Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, also today reacting to the death of Senator Wellstone.
Our John King is covering the president there near the ranch -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, hello to you from Crawford.
A short time ago, President Bush emerging from discussions at the ranch with the Chinese President Jiang Zemin. It was during those conversations when the president was brought the official word that FAA investigators had indeed confirmed that it was Senator Wellstone's plane and that Senator Wellstone, his wife, his daughter, those three aides and the two crew members were killed in that crash.
Mr. Bush opened the press availability with the visiting Chinese president by voicing his condolences for the loss of Senator Wellstone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to start off by saying how sad Laura and I are about the sudden and tragic death of United States Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife and one of his children, as well as the death of others on that private airplane. Our prayers and heartfelt sympathy goes to their sons, their loved ones, their friends and the people of Minnesota. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It was just the other day President Bush was in Minnesota campaigning for the Republican opponent of Senator Wellstone, former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman. President Bush personally recruited Mayor Coleman to run in that race because the Republicans had targeted the Minnesota Senate race as one of their key priorities this year. But politics, Judy, set aside on this day, as the federal government tries to gatherer information on the crash and as the president, Democrats, Republicans, independents alike voice their condolences at the death of Paul Wellstone -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: No question, John. Tragedy all around.
And we go from one tragedy to another. Just before we learned the sad news of Paul Wellstone's death, we've all been focused on the capture just yesterday of the snipers, suspected snipers. Let's go right now to this news conference in Montgomery County, Maryland.
DOUGLAS GANSLER, STATE'S ATTORNEY, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND: Over the past three weeks, as well as today, the prosecutors involved in this case have maintained an open dialogue regarding our function to support the efforts of law enforcement to bring the snipers into custody.
Today, along with the entire community, the prosecutors from the local jurisdictions directly affected by the sniper attacks are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the two men who allegedly perpetrated the sniper shootings are now behind bars.
These two men terrorized and instilled fear into the very marrow of our communities. We send out our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of all 13 victims of these crimes.
As a group, the prosecutors involved in the investigation remain united in the cause to ensure that justice is served, that these men are held accountable for the acts that they allegedly committed, and that the punishment ultimately meted out fits the crime.
Let me be clear: Each of the seven jurisdictions -- Montgomery County, Maryland, Prince George's County, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and the Virginia counties of Spotsylvania County, Prince William County, Hanover County and Fairfax County -- all have jurisdiction and a strong interest in the prosecution of these crimes.
GANSLER: The only outstanding issue at this time is which of the seven jurisdictions is best positioned to prosecute the case first? Within the next few hours, in collaboration with the State's Attorney Office of Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Police Department will obtain an arrest warrant for the arrest of John Muhammad, age 41, and Lee Malvo, age 19 (sic), for six counts of first-degree murder. Mr. Malvo will be charged as an adult.
The decision to charge these cases in Montgomery County, Maryland, was reached after in-depth consultation with local, state and federal law enforcement officials. Among those considerations was, first, that Montgomery County was the community most affected and most impacted by the sniper shootings. Unfortunately, we suffered six of the 10 homicides in our community, seven of the homicide victims were from Montgomery County and seven of the 14 shootings occurred in Montgomery County.
Second, because these murders and shootings took place in a short time span -- that would be the initial five homicides, the six shootings -- four of those within a two-and-a-half-hour time frame, and because they occurred in such close proximity, we are able to present the best and most extensive evidence here in Montgomery County.
And third, the investigation began, ended and was centered here in Montgomery County.
GANSLER: I should mention that there are also some federal issues to consider as well. We have worked in constant partnership and continue to do so with the federal authorities.
I remind you murder is a local crime and, as you know, crossing state lines to commit a murder in and to itself does not make a murder a federal crime. Thus I want to highlight the support given to this investigation by the federal authorities. The Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have been incredible. This investigation would not be where we are today but for the indispensable help that they have provided.
I wish that everyone in the United States had had the opportunity to go into the command center and observe the truly herculean efforts, the cooperation, the coordination between these federal groups, the state agencies and the local authorities in investigating this case.
As for a potential federal prosecution in this case, it is my understanding that no decision in that regard has been definitively made by the federal authorities. The two defendants will remain in the custody of the federal government until a decision is reached.
There have been issues of the death penalty raised as well. To clarify, Virginia and Maryland have the death penalty. Both of these jurisdictions intend at this time to seek the death penalty. Maryland cannot seek the death penalty against Mr. Malvo if indeed he is a juvenile. Virginia could. Maryland could seek life without possibility of parole as a potential sentence. The District of Columbia does not have a death penalty.
Though I cannot comment on specific evidence regarding the investigation at this time, the affidavit for the arrest warrant will be forthcoming.
To the public, thank you for your help and expressed concern that you have provided over the past three weeks.
Are there any questions?
QUESTION: You said that there are federal issues involved, and that there's been no federal decision yet as to whether to prosecute or not prosecute...
WOODRUFF: We're listening to Doug Gansler who is the state attorney -- the prosecutor in Montgomery County, Maryland about what the charges will be against the two men suspected of the sniper killings in Maryland and Virginia, the District of Columbia.
And we want to go directly from that -- as we said, tragedy to tragedy this day, to the governor of the state of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, talking about the death today of Paul Wellstone.
JESSE VENTURA, GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA: ... Paul Wellstone's integrity, Paul Wellstone absolute love of his country, the people he represented, his friends, and most of all his family.
On behalf of the people of Minnesota, the members of my administration and my family, I want to say that Paul Wellstone will long be remembered as the great man he was. In his honor, I have ordered state flags to be flown at half- staff now through the election.
Finally, I had tremendous respect for Paul, and I will forever be indebted to him for his service and his ultimate sacrifice for this great democracy.
QUESTION: Governor, you could appoint a replacement (OFF-MIKE) would only be good through the election. Do you intend (OFF-MIKE)?
VENTURA: I won't answer any of that at this time. I will only state this, unequivocally and absolutely: I will not appoint myself. So my days in public service will end at the end of my term. So that is the only question on that issue that I will address today, is that it will not be me, if I do go that route.
VENTURA: I don't know right now. It's not the time nor the place to be making that decision at this time and place.
QUESTION: Governor, could you please relate a personal experience that you had with Senator Wellstone that (inaudible) out in your mind most?
VENTURA: I think mostly with the senator was always on Veterans Day. We would always go out to the veterans hospital. I would be there, and I never had any doubt that when I got there Senator Wellstone would be there. He was a great advocate for veterans and veteran causes and veterans benefits.
Having not been a veteran himself, I found that highly commendable that, you know, that someone would take the stance that he had.
But as personal, it was always -- I always knew on Veterans Day that I would see the senator on that day. And as other Veterans Days now come, I'm sure that on that day I will always remember him, on that particular day.
QUESTION: Governor, where were you when you found out and what was your immediate reaction?
VENTURA: I was, like everyone else, stunned. You know, it's one of those things that you really -- you don't know how to react.
I had just finished a radio show. I had just driven back home, had just pulled into the parking lot at my ranch. In fact, I was on the phone with the first lady at the time when my security trooper had received a call on his phone, and the minute I hung up my phone, he turned back to me and relayed the news at that time.
Of course, nothing had been fully confirmed, you know, because this was just shortly after noon. It was more at that time just the speculation that we knew the plane had gone down, but we weren't absolutely sure who was on it.
WOODRUFF: Senator -- I'm sorry -- Governor Jesse Ventura, a colorful, flamboyant figure himself, but nothing very flamboyant today, a day of tragedy in the state of Minnesota. Jesse Ventura calling Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash today, "a great man" saying he remembers him particularly on Veterans Day because they always visited veterans hospitals together.
Candy Crowley is our chief political correspondent. She is with us now.
Candy, you were just in Minnesota just a matter of a few days ago covering that hard-fought campaign between Paul Wellstone and his Republican opponent Norm Coleman.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely and, in fact, it was a typical Wellstone campaign full of quirks, full of passion and full of the philosophy that he is so well known for -- that liberal philosophy.
Paul Wellstone, as you know, Judy, had served in the Senate for 12 years. As these things go, that's not a long political career, but it is one that will be long remembered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senators voting in the negative.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Look up nearly any overwhelming vote in the Senate, 99-1, 98-2, and bet that one of the dissenters was the senator from Minnesota.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mikulski, Murray and Wellstone.
CROWLEY: Paul Wellstone was intensely passionate, purely liberal.
He called drug industry profits obscene, fought bankruptcy laws he thought were anti-consumer and tax policies he said favored the rich.
SEN. PAUL WELLSTONE (D), MINNESOTA: Republicans want some of the largest corporations in the country to pay zero in taxes but they refuse to help the people who are flat on their back, out of work...
CROWLEY: The uncompromising nature of his politics wasn't everybody's cup of tea.
A survey of Congressional staffers called Wellstone one of the Senate's biggest windbags.
WELLSTONE: You can't realize this goal of leaving no child behind. Not on a tin up budget, not unless you make this commitment and there will be no education reform bill because it can't be reformed!
CROWLEY: Lobbyists dubbed him the worst dressed.
But mostly, Wellstone's politics and his passion were softened by the playfulness of his character.
WELLSTONE: We're going to win!
CROWLEY: His life was a culmination of unlikely stories. The son of Jewish Russian immigrants who grew up in Virginia, with an old green bus and a set of quirky commercials, Wellstone, a college professor, beat powerful Republican Senator Rudy Boschwitz in 1990. It was one of the decade's political stunners.
Wellstone eventually became the senior citizen from Minnesota, who fought against the big guys for the little guys, the darling of the big burly unions in Minnesota's iron range.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't come better. The best senator in the United States.
CROWLEY: The rap was that Wellstone was so unrelentingly liberal he could never accomplish anything in an increasingly centrist Senate. but he found pockets of bipartisanship to further his passions. He and conservative Senator Domenici, both with mental illness in the family, team up to push for insurance parity for mental illness.
WELLSTONE: It is a matter of fairness and justice and we are going to fight this all the way.
CROWLEY: Wellstone thought in the end what mattered most was not winning, but principle. So when he broke his promise to serve for only two terms, he took some heat. But Wellstone said the stakes were too high in a divided Senate for him to leave.
But winning was not everything. Wellstone was the only Democrat in a tough race to vote against the resolution of war against Iraq.
WELLSTONE: I have to only do what my head and heart and soul tell me is the right thing to do. That's all I can do. CROWLEY: Perhaps it would have cost him some votes, but Wellstone, though he was battling multiple sclerosis, had a fight for his seat that was energetic and typically Wellstone.
WELLSTONE: I think the race has to do with, you know, people in Minnesota saying, Look, this -- you know, we want a senator who is on our side when it comes to jobs or when it comes to being willing to take on these big economic interests. We don't view Paul as a WorldCom guy or an Enron guy or a Global Crossings guy. We view him as one of us and for us.
CROWLEY: Paul Wellstone died at the age of 58. He is being eulogized by his friends and his colleagues and his family as a decent man of great passion.
He was, as well, a man of great optimism. "I still believe," he once said, "that government can be a force for good in people's lives." -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley, thanks very much. Candy was in Minnesota covering Paul Wellstone just a few days ago.
With me now, someone who served in the United States Senate with Paul Wellstone, former Senate majority leader Republican -- former Senate Republican Bob Dole.
Senator, you are someone who was on the opposite sides of so many arguments with Paul Wellstone, but you got to know him very well.
BOB DOLE, FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, first of all, this is a terrible tragedy. I mean, that's about all you can say. It's a terrible thing that happened.
But Paul Wellstone and I were friends. We didn't vote very often together, but we respected one another and he would come by my desk and I would go back and talk to him now and then. Joke back and forth. He had this very lively personality.
And he was just a good, decent guy with different views than mine, but that didn't diminish him, in my view.
WOODRUFF: What do you remember about him, Senator? You said he'd often come by your desk and joke with you. What comes to mind?
DOLE: Well, I think, you know, he came by even in '96 when I was running for president. It looked like a long shot. But he couldn't be for me but he wanted me to know that he thought I did a great job in the Senate and he respected what I did, particularly in working in certain areas of American disabilities and school lunch, food programs, other things.
But, you know, we both came from farm states, so we had a lot of conversations about agriculture. But I think, you know, he would go on and on sometimes, we'd say, Let's get out of here, Paul, we want to go home. But by and large, just a decent, genuine guy who had a different philosophy than most everybody in that body, but he still had the respect of, I would guess, almost everyone in the Senate.
WOODRUFF: Senator Dole, you retired from the Senate a few years ago, but you know that body as well as anyone. It is, in a way, like a family, isn't it? When someone is lost in this way in a sudden tragic way, no matter what the partisan divides are, it's personal?
DOLE: It is a family. I mean, you have 100 people who associate with each other on a daily basis. It's like a small community almost, along with staff and others who keep the place running.
And particularly if you're on a committee with one of your colleagues, regardless of party, whether he's Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, moderate, whatever, you develop a relationship. That doesn't mean you agree with people on issues but you develop this personal relationship where you respect one another even though you have maybe diametrically opposed views.
And Paul was a friendly guy and spoke -- I always sort of -- the way they spoke to the staff, the way they spoke to the people on the door, whether the way they spoke to the people around the Senate floor. And I always thought that was a touch of being genuine and Paul always had time to say hello and visit with staff people. Not his own staff but just staff in the Senate.
WOODRUFF: And, senator, one other thing. We're making much this afternoon as we remember Senator Wellstone of how he voted his conscience. He was a man of principle. He voted -- a lot of his positions were considered liberal. He stuck with them even when he knew he was going down -- you know, the vote was not going to go his way.
Is that something that we're making too much of? Is there enough of that these days in American politics?
DOLE: I don't think so. I mean, I didn't agree with Paul Wellstone, as I said, on a number of issues. I wouldn't have agreed with him if I had been in the Senate on Iraq, but that's what he believed. And you know when Paul Wellstone said it, it wasn't a political ploy. It's what he believed. He believed that was the right course to follow.
And when you believe that, when it's not just political expediency, certainly it's the right thing to do. Now, I don't say he didn't understand politics. He certainly understood politics. He certainly cast political votes. But on a matter like Iraq, which would have affected a lot of people all around the world, particularly in Minnesota, that was a vote on principle.
WOODRUFF: Senator Bob Dole, who, as we all know, the former Senate majority leader, remembering his longtime colleague in the Senate, Paul Wellstone.
Senator, good to talk to you. We appreciate your being with us today. DOLE: Thanks, Judy. Bye.
WOODRUFF: As we see a picture of the United States Capitol with the flags flying at half staff, we are going to take a short break.
And when we come back, we're waiting for a news conference by the National Transportation Safety Board, which, of course, will be in charge of looking into what happened to the plane that carried Senator Wellstone, his wife, his daughter, three staff members and two pilots to their deaths.
WOODRUFF: Remembering Paul Wellstone, the senator from Minnesota who had served two terms, was running for a third term, killed today in a plane crash in northern Minnesota along with his wife, their daughter, three staff members and the two pilots on that small, private plane.
Even as we think of the personal tragedy here, this is 11 days before the election, scheduled for November 5, so questions automatically arise, by necessity, about what happens on the ballot.
With me now my colleague, Brooks Jackson, who's in Washington. And he has been looking into what the law says and what is going to happen to that ballot, Brooks?
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we don't know what will happen but here's what could happen: Minnesota election law fortunately is very clear on this. It says on the death or withdrawal of a candidate, a major political party has the authority to fill a vacancy.
It further says that if the vacancy occurs through the candidate's death, the nomination certificate must be filed no later than four days before the general election. So the party has the authority to fill that vacancy on the ballot by a week from today.
Now, the governor, of course, could appoint a successor temporarily. Minnesota law says the governor may make a temporary appointment to fill any vacancy, but the law then also goes on to say that an individual who is elected to the office of United States senator when the office is vacant or filled by an individual appointed by the governor, shall also succeed to the office for the remainder of the unexpired term.
What that means in simple words is that if Governor Ventura appoints somebody to replace Senator Wellstone, whoever he appoints is going to be replaced immediately after the election by whoever wins the election.
Another intriguing political possibility, because there's going to be a lame duck session, as the Senate and house are going to come back after the election to try to clear up some appropriations bills and other matters. If a Republican, the Republican wins, Senator Wellstone's seat, regardless of what happens in other Senate elections then the entire Senate would revert to Republican control for that lake duck session in November and possibly December -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And, Brooks, just one clarification here. Then, are you saying it is up to the Democratic party in the state of Minnesota -- are you saying that they have now -- it is their decision to make?
JACKSON: According to the ballot -- yes. Here's the way it goes. When it comes to filling a vacancy on the ballot, that's the party's role and their duty and they've got to do it within the next week.
The governor could appoint somebody to succeed Senator Wellstone, but whoever he would appoint would be senator for a few days. That person would be replaced immediately by whoever wins the actual election.
WOODRUFF: And after that person is sworn in. All right.
WOODRUFF: Brooks Jackson, thanks very much for that update. As we've been saying all afternoon, members of the Senate and the House remembering Paul Wellstone today.
My colleague, Kate Snow, who covers the Capitol has been talking to a number of people on the Hill today about the Senator -- Kate.
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we've been talking about the senator, about the loss.
Obviously, the hallways up here just full of sadness. I was over at Senator Wellstone's office for a time right after the news came out. And I saw a number of people in tears, people consoling each other, people hugging each other. We saw staff from the Senate nursing office going in to try to help people out with their pain. Obviously, it is just a terrible day for not only his office, but just generally for the Senate. You can feel it in the hallways here.
We did ask, Judy, though, some questions about the same subject that you were just talking about with Brooks Jackson. Obviously, life does -- will go on eventually. And there will be questions about the politics of all of this and who is going to succeed Senator Wellstone on that ballot. I've spoken with a number of Democratic and Republican operatives here in town who have been looking at that very question that Brooks was just addressing.
And while the first thing they say is, of course, they're devastated right now and they don't really want to get into the nitty- gritty nuts and bolts of who is going to be on the ballot, they have started talking about it, Judy. Democrats I've spoken with say that, privately, the party's first reaction was, can we leave Senator Wellstone's name on the ballot? It would just be easier that way. It might provide more name recognition. It might be a stronger candidate for the Democratic Party.
Democratic operatives say they're not clear on whether the law really tells them they have to appoint a successor candidate. Brooks just walked you through the law. And the law says the party has the authority to appoint somebody new, to put a new name on that ballot. But they're saying to me, Democrats are saying to me: "We're not sure whether that means we have to do that. Perhaps we could leave Wellstone's name on the ballot."
On the other hand, Republicans saying they believe that the Democrats do have to take some action, the party does have to take action. I talked to one Republican operative here in town who says: "The ball is in the Democrats' court. We're simply waiting now for them to figure out what they're going to do" -- both parties' operatives saying that Governor Ventura is the real wild card here, that he is the one who could really make a change.
If, for example, the Democrats do try to keep Wellstone's name on the ballot, what happens if the governor doesn't like that idea? He could potentially get involved and try to name someone himself -- so a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainty, Judy, a lot of sadness here on Capitol Hill. But, again, this is one of the tightest races -- it was one of the tightest races in the country, so it's certainly going to be watched by the political operatives here in town -- very unclear at this point how it might affect the races nationally -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: OK, you're absolutely right. It's hard to imagine a political question, even at a time of terrible tragedy like this, when there isn't disagreement, different views from Republicans and Democrats about what they're supposed to do.
And I would just say quickly, what we heard from Governor Ventura a few minutes ago, the Minnesota governor, is that he's not ready to address that question. He said now is not the right time.
With me now is Senator John McCain.
Senator McCain, I wasn't able to hear where you are, but you worked side by side with Paul Wellstone. You're obviously a different political party. He was a Democrat. You're a Republican. What are your thoughts this afternoon?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, it is true that we are of a different party and a different philosophy. But I don't think there was a more enthusiastic, more devoted member of the United States Senate for the causes that he believed in than Paul Wellstone.
He stood up for the things he believed in. The latest example, it was, I think, an act of courage to vote against the Iraq resolution when you're up for reelection. He voted against it because that's what he believed. And we may have had our differences politically, but he was a lot of fun to be around. He was always smiling.
The elevator operators loved Paul Wellstone. The men and women that run the subway that runs back and forth to our offices loved Paul Wellstone. There wasn't a person that he didn't take time out to say hello to. And he always had a smile on his face.
WOODRUFF: When you think about him, Senator, what do you remember? You've mentioned some of it. MCCAIN: I remember that he...
WOODRUFF: What else do you think about him?
MCCAIN: I think he carried on in kind of a tradition of the state of Minnesota. He was very independent, did not -- was not swayed by the political winds.
And he had a boundless enthusiasm. I've seen him go over to the floor of the Senate, wait patiently for hours, until it was his turn to speak, and then speak with passion and conviction. There was -- as I say, I didn't agree with Paul on many occasions. But I never, ever, ever doubted his commitment to his causes and his enthusiastic and dedicated commitment to those causes. And his wife was a lovely partner, as you know.
WOODRUFF: And we should be remembering her as well. Sheila Wellstone, married to Paul Wellstone, was on that plane, along with their daughter, Marcia, and their three staff members, as well as the pilots.
Senator McCain, just a few minutes ago, I put this question to Bob Dole. We talked about what it means to be someone of conscience in the United States Congress. And I asked, are we making too much of this? Is it really that difficult to be someone who stands on principle these days?
MCCAIN: Oh, I think it's more and more difficult when you see how much the money counts, that, if you alienate the special interests that traditionally support your party, the huge amounts of money that may go in another direction, Paul Wellstone never worried about that.
And I would like to make one comment about Sheila. She was always with him. She was his partner of 38 years. It was a true partnership. And I did not know his daughter. But I certainly knew Sheila. And she was a marvelous person as well.
As we all know, Paul was in the early stages of M.S. And I cannot tell you the courage and the steadfastness she provided him, particularly when he found out. He thought he had a back injury from being an outstanding college wrestler. And he found out that he was in the early stages of M.S. And she did a magnificent job helping him through that traumatic experience. And he never faltered and he never wavered.
WOODRUFF: I think it's so important, Senator McCain, that you mentioned his wife and her role, because what the public sees so often of you and so many others in public life, we see the elected public figure. We don't see the people who stand behind, the spouse. Often, it's usually the wife. Sometimes it's the husband, other family members. They do play a crucial role. And, in this instance, you're saying she was there for everything.
MCCAIN: She was. And she was a very active partner of Paul's.
But I also -- 38 years is a long and beautiful partnership. And she was there with him. And it's just a great tragedy. And maybe we ought to start reviewing the kinds of transportation that people take during campaigns. I don't know how you do that, but this is not the first: the Carnahan tragedy, Boggs. There have been a long series of them.
And I just -- weather seems to have always been a factor in these things, Judy. And we've got to be more careful, I think, in the future. But, in the meantime, we mourn the loss of a good, decent American.
WOODRUFF: We can't put it any better than that, Senator John McCain.
And you bring up something that is on the minds of all of us. There have been too many. One is too many. But there have been too many of these incidents. Of course, every death is a tragedy. But when you find one politician, one political figure after another, public figure, in one of those small planes, hurrying to get to an important event, sometimes taking risks -- although we have no idea if that was the case in this particular instance -- it does make you wonder about the lengths people go to, to do the work that they do for the public good.
MCCAIN: And, finally, if I could mention his lovely daughter, from what I'm told, but his three dedicated staff members as well, we mourn the loss of all.
WOODRUFF: We do.
Senator John McCain, with us, talking about Paul Wellstone, his wife, Sheila, their daughter, Marcia, three staff members of Senator Wellstone, who were lost in that plane today, along with both pilots.
We're going to take a break. Our coverage continues.
WOODRUFF: I'm Judy Woodruff, reporting from Manchester, New Hampshire, a place we had come to cover the Senate race here.
But, of course, as we all know, as we've been talking the last few hours, the terrible news came that Paul Wellstone, two-term senator from the state of Minnesota, killed today in a plane crash in Northern Minnesota. I want to read this very brief statement that Paul Wellstone's office, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, has put out just in the last few minutes.
The senator's office says: "Paul Wellstone was one of a kind. He was a man of principle and conviction in a world that has too little of either. He was dedicated to helping the little guy in a business dominated by the big guys. We who had the privilege of working for him hope that he will be remembered as he lived every day, as a champion for people. His family was the center of his life. And it breaks our hearts that his wife of 28 years and his daughter, Marcia, were with him. Our prayers are with Mark and David, their sons, and the grandchildren that he and Sheila cherished so much" -- again, that statement from the office of Senator Paul Wellstone.
Jeff Greenfield, my colleague, is with me now, our CNN senior analyst.
Jeff, you were with Senator Wellstone just a couple of days ago as he was campaigning around his state.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Yes.
I went up to Minnesota Tuesday, went up to St. Cloud, where he was participating in a debate against Republican Norm Coleman and two minor-party candidates. It was, in typical Minnesota tradition, a vigorous but remarkably civil debate.
After the debate, I caught up with Senator Wellstone, where he was at a rally at a college in St. Cloud, had an interview with him, with his wife, Sheila, at his daughter. We want to show you a little bit of I guess one of the last interviews that he did with a network person, because it really captures a lot of who Paul Wellstone was.
Let's take a look at some of this.
GREENFIELD: Has there been a change in the emphasis that you bring to your job?
SEN. PAUL WELLSTONE (D), MINNESOTA: Yes.
GREENFIELD: Has 12 years in Washington -- I don't want to say
WELLSTONE: Changed me?
WELLSTONE: Yes, it has. Of course 12 years in Washington has changed me, but in this way and not this way.
Twelve years in Washington has changed me, in that I learned, after the first year, you need to know the rules. And you need to know your leverage. And you need to know how to do the work for people in Minnesota. Second of all, you push the envelope all the time. But, every time you can get something done for Minnesota, you do it. And that's what I do. I love coming through for communities. Both Sheila and I love doing that.
What hasn't changed is: same values, same hopes, same dreams and sometimes the same indignation.
GREENFIELD: All of the corporate wrongdoings, we can't find much evidence that it's actually playing politically. I mean, I don't know if you agree with that. And, if you do, why not?
WELLSTONE: People are -- their 401(k) plans are being decimated. People are really worried. And what it is, is people are worried. People are worried about, are they going to have a pension? And people are worried about whether or not they can make an investment.
GREENFIELD: But is there a political link to that?
WELLSTONE: And people are well aware of the fact that they think there are too few big economic interests who have way too much power and say, as opposed to them.
And probably the greatest strength I have in Minnesota, I think -- and hope and I pray -- is that people, even when don't they agree -- like they say, "Paul what are you doing?" -- but then they say: "But you know what? Most of the time you're on our side."
GREENFIELD: The use of force resolution you voted against, people have actually suggested, well, that actually is proof that you are who you are, even if most people disagree with you, and that you're not suffering from that politically.
WELLSTONE: I don't actually, to this day, know ultimately how that vote will -- what will happen.
But I'll tell you this. I voted against the resolution. And everybody said it's over in Washington. And I didn't know. And I have no numbers, like how many people are for or against it. But I know this. The people in Minnesota have been unbelievably gracious and respectful to me. People have been so respectful. They come up. And even when they don't agree, they have been so respectful about that vote.
I am blessed. I sound like a real politician, but I am blessed to be a senator from Minnesota.
GREENFIELD: And, Judy, at the end of that interview, I asked Senator Wellstone, given Minnesota's tradition of maverick politics and their affection for third-party candidates and rebels, I asked him, "Do you think you could be elected senator from any other state?"
And Wellstone said, "Well, you know, frankly, with my looks, I could be elected from any state." And then he laughed. And he and Sheila left for another campaign appearance. That's pretty much -- what you see with him was what you got, Judy.
WOODRUFF: That was the trademark Wellstone humor. And, Jeff, we want to point out, the woman who was standing between the two of you was his wife, Sheila Wellstone, who went down in that plane with him today.
GREENFIELD: She was at his side every minute.
I want to turn now to my other colleague, Bill Schneider, our chief political analyst. Bill, you heard John McCain just a minute or two ago talk about the number of political figures who have been lost in airplanes that went down in a campaign. And you've been doing some thinking about that.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's right.
Politicians like to believe that they can control fate. But, once again, through tragedy, we've learned that fate controls all of us. Because political figures have such busy and demanding schedules, they often rely on small planes, flying in risky weather. Since 1972, at least 13 political figures have died in plane crashes.
John McCain mentioned Hale Boggs in 1972, who was in line to become speaker of the House one day. A leading African-American, Texas Representative Mickey Leland, a Democrat, was killed when he was on a visit to Ethiopia. He chaired a select committee on hunger.
And sometimes these tragedies transform politics. Back in 1978, Richard Obenshain was the Republican nominee to be senator from Virginia. He died in a plane crash. And the man appointed to succeed him was John Warner, who has since become an icon in Virginia and is running for reelection this year unopposed.
Another important incidence of tragedy of John Heinz, a third term-senator, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania, died in a plane crash in 1991. A Democrat was appointed to succeed him. That Democrat in 1994 lost to Rick Santorum, who is far more conservative than John Heinz was and has moved up in the Senate to become one of the leading Republicans in the United States Senate.
And, of course, we all remember just two years ago the death of Mel Carnahan in Missouri, the Democratic nominee for that Senate seat in a tight race against John Ashcroft, the incumbent senator. Carnahan died just at about this point before the 2000 election. He was succeeded by his wife, because he remained on the ballot. There was an enormous sympathy vote for Mel Carnahan.
His wife, Jean, was appointed by the Democratic governor to succeed him. She now holds the Senate seat. She has to run this year in a special election and is struggling to keep that seat in the Democratic Party.
And now, of course, Paul Wellstone -- who I regard in many ways as the voice of a movement, the '60s liberals, the generation that fought civil rights, the Vietnam War, the environment, women's rights, a whole series of causes -- he, I believe, was the leading voice of that cause, now gone.
WOODRUFF: And, Bill, the reason these men -- I was just going to say, Bill -- I'm sorry. I thought we were going to hear some sound there.
The reason these politicians, these public figures, are flying on these planes is because, as you said, very busy schedules, trying to get all over their state or whatever area it is they're covering, and using a plane, because it's obviously the fastest way to get there, and sometimes flying when the weather is not the best.
SCHNEIDER: That's right.
And, of course, others in their family, their staffs go along with them and take the same risks. Journalists sometimes fly in those planes. I remember, many years ago, in 1988, I was in Iowa flying in a small plane with Representative Dick Gephardt, who was then running for president. And we hit some bad weather. And I remember I turned a little green. And Representative Gephardt looked to me and said, "Are you all right?"
And I said, "Well, I don't want to be in the news article tomorrow under 'also on board.'" The fact is, they take these kind of risks, people with them have to take those kind of risks, because they have such busy schedules, and it's sometimes often the only way to get from one place to another.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider with us from Washington.
And I want to turn quickly now to someone else we're seeing off and on this program these days. And that's Stu Rothenberg of "The Rothenberg Political Report."
Stu, we're mourning the loss of Senator Paul Wellstone today. But, by necessity -- we're 11 days away from the election -- already considerable thought being given privately and quietly, but it is being given to who is going to take his place, either on the ballot or, as we're hearing discussion now, some Democrats are saying, maybe leave his name on the ballot and see what happens after.
STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, absolutely, Judy.
It seems awkward to be talking about the political ramifications, but there is going to be an election. The state law guarantees that. And the campaigns have to figure out what to do. And by the campaigns, I mean, on one hand, senior Democratic elected officials and party people in Minnesota. I'm sure the state party chairman, the national committee men and committee women, state elected officials, are going to have to decide exactly how to proceed, who they're going to get to replace the late Senator Wellstone, or if they're not going to replace him at all.
And on the other side, even Norm Coleman, the Republican Senate candidate, has got to figure out what to do now. Certainly he's going to pull down his commercials. We're going to have a suspension of the campaign. And yet the clock continues to tick until November 5.
WOODRUFF: We've also had an announcement already today from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which, of course, has been running ads. There have been in all these other contested races. They've already announced, of course, that they would immediately pull down their ads. When other names are considered, Stu, what are some of the names that are out there? I mean, you have people like Skip Humphrey, who was running for office this year, Democrat. There are other Democrats in the state who are well-known.
ROTHENBERG: Well, former Attorney General Skip Humphrey actually ran against Norm Coleman four years ago for governor. They both ran against Jesse Ventura. He, of course, won. Coleman finished second. Skip Humphrey finished third.
But there are other names. There's former congressman David Minge, for example. There's Mike Hatch, the state attorney general. There are other former candidates who are going to being mentioned, Alan Page, for example, former Minnesota Vikings football star, who is now a state Supreme Court justice.
So there will be lots of names circulating. But this is very different, Judy, than Missouri. In the case of Missouri, you had Mrs. Carnahan. You had the Democrats being able to say: "A vote for Mel Carnahan is a vote for Jean Carnahan to serve as a sort of memorial for him. And then she'll have to stand two years later," which is what she's doing now.
It's a little different now if you put up a politician, whether it's Walter Mondale or Skip Humphrey or Alan Page. This is a politician, with some political advantages and disadvantages. And it's a politician running against another politician.
WOODRUFF: Except that one of the names I saw on your list were the names -- two of the names were the names of Senator Wellstone's sons, David Wellstone, Mark Wellstone. I don't know the ages of the sons. I don't even know if, A, if they'd be eligible to serve, or, B, if they're at all interested. Today, clearly, their minds are with this tragedy.
ROTHENBERG: Judy, I've been told that they are both under 30 years of age and therefore not eligible to run.
Obviously, a family member certainly would come to mind, but most family members at the moment I think have other concerns.
WOODRUFF: All right, Stu Rothenberg, thank you very much.
WOODRUFF: We want to take a moment now to remember how Paul Wellstone first came onto the political scene back in 1990 in what analysts have called one of the upsets of that decade. His upstart, underdog campaign against the incumbent, Republican Senator Rudy Boschwitz, became known for the green bus that Paul Wellstone drove all over the state of Minnesota, as well as his funny, low-budget TV ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
WELLSTONE: Hi, I'm Paul Wellstone. And I'm running for the United States Senate from Minnesota. Unlike my opponent, I don't have $6 million, so I'm going to have to talk fast.
This is my wife, Sheila, and our children. This is my house in Northfield, where I have lived for 21 years. My son David farms. And I've worked with Minnesota farmers for years. We must stop the poisoning of the air and the land and the water. I'll lead the fight for national health care. I've been a teacher for 24 years, labor- endorsed.
NARRATOR: Paul Wellstone won't slow down after he's elected. Vote for Paul Wellstone September 11.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: There was another ad that aired back in 1990 in that first race which featured Wellstone looking for Senator Rudy Boschwitz in hopes of getting a debate with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
WELLSTONE: When I decided to run for Senate, there was one thing I was looking forward to. So, as it turns out, were a lot of you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I expect that there will be some debates.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would love to see you debate with him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I think there should be debates, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people have more money than others to play with, where, if you debate, you're kind of standing there without money.
WELLSTONE: Getting ahold of the person I had to debate, however, proved easier said than done.
Is Rudy Boschwitz here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he's not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't like strangers walking around.
WELLSTONE: First, I tried his campaign headquarters.
Let me give you my home phone number, too, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. I'll make sure that he gets this and we'll get back to you.
WELLSTONE: What do you think? Do you think we should have debates around the state, so that people can see...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll get the message to him.
WELLSTONE: What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glad to meet you.
WELLSTONE: No, but about these debates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for coming down.
WELLSTONE: OK, OK. All right. I'll see you all.
Then I tried his office.
Is he here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is not here. He is returning from Milwaukee.
WELLSTONE: No luck.
I'll write my home phone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure.
WELLSTONE: Is this your pen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sure. Probably not.
WELLSTONE: That's a nice one. I don't have a lot of money, so I'll keep this one for my campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That will be fine.
WELLSTONE: I tried everything, I mean, everything.
Is Mr. Boschwitz here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not today.
WELLSTONE: Did Rudy Boschwitz call? Did anybody get a call from him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
WELLSTONE: Well, if he calls, everybody, let me know. Hey, you guys?
OK, well, maybe I can find him somewhere, then. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.
WELLSTONE: OK. Bye-bye.
They say he's in the cities. I don't know where he is. He's not in Minneapolis. They say he's campaigning. And then I go to St. Paul, they say he's in Milwaukee. Rest assured there will be debates on the key issues of this campaign. Look for upcoming dates and places. And, in the meantime, if you see a silver-haired gentleman in a plaid shirt, mention I'm looking for him.
Yes, information, do you have the telephone number of a Rudy Boschwitz, please, in Plymouth?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Well, somebody must have liked that ad, because Paul Wellstone went on to win his first campaign for the United States Senate, defeating Senator Boschwitz. Wellstone had 50 percent of the vote.
Once again, let's turn to my colleague, our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, with some more thoughts about Paul Wellstone -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Judy, you know what's interesting here, looking at these commercials, and especially the last one, is, obviously, he had -- a great guy with a great gimmick and an ad. But ads can't cover up sort of who you are.
And I think what you saw there was the actual Paul Wellstone. He was a little quirky. He had a good sense of humor. And it's what made his liberalism, his unrelenting liberalism so palatable to people like Bob Dole, who you talked to earlier, and those who really were on the other end of the spectrum from Wellstone, who nonetheless liked him because he could be so charming.
WOODRUFF: Well, we heard John McCain talk about how he was the one who all the elevator operators -- they still use elevator operators at the Capitol -- because he knew their names and he would joke with them. Those are the things -- when we lose someone, those are the things that we come back to so often.
CROWLEY: Absolutely, yes.
And one of the things that he -- in Minnesota, when you're up there, they know him. This is Paul. This isn't, "Senator." "Hello, Paul. Hello, Paul. How are you, Paul?" And that's how he wanted to be seen. And in that commercial -- he's a professor from Carleton. I mean, that's how his -- this very unlikely career. He was teaching school in the Midwest.
WOODRUFF: We hadn't remembered how much of an underdog he was, came out of nowhere to win that race.
Candy Crowley, thanks very much.
WOODRUFF: Helping us remember Paul Wellstone.
As we wrap up our coverage for this hour, we want to tell you of another sad story today. And that is, we've learned of the death of actor Richard Harris in London, known in the '60s for the musical "Camelot." More recently, he performed in the movies "Gladiator," "The Count of Monte Cristo." We know Richard Harris had been treated for Hodgkin's disease, but we don't know the cause of his death -- again, actor Richard Harris dead today.
Our continuing coverage of the death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone continues.
I'm Judy Woodruff, reporting now from Manchester, New Hampshire.
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