Terror attacks change political climate
Candidates say voters ask tough questions
By Lenora Chu
The anniversary of Sept. 11 is just around the corner, and candidates for office took the opportunity at the State Fair this week to reflect on how the political climate has changed since the World Trade Center fell.
Most agree that voters are taking political matters more seriously this year and are asking tougher questions as they decide which candidate gets their vote.
"People are looking for accountability," said Republican Tim Pawlenty, a candidate for governor.
"Sept. 11 plus the recession has put the country and people in a more serious and thoughtful mood."
Pawlenty noted the marked differences between the environment of this election year and that of 1998.
"In 1998, we're at peace, the economy's roaring and there's almost a party mindset in the nation," Pawlenty said. "Times have changed. People are losing their jobs, we're in a war and we have a deficit."
"There's less of an emphasis on entertainment," Pawlenty continued, taking a jab at Gov. Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler. "People are looking for leaders."
Voters are not in the mood for "politics as usual," according to Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny.
"People are less patient with partisanship for partisanship's sake," Penny said. "They are in the mood for a shared sacrifice for the common good.
"This is about public policy," Penny continued, "and doing what we need to do."
Jim Moore, the IP's endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate, said he has noticed that voters are asking more questions about U.S. policy on immigration.
"There's a lot of concern about immigration," Moore said. "For those who want to stop (immigration) completely, I tell them we simply have to track (newcomers) better."
The country has recognized a new threat in the "clandestine operation" of terrorism, he added, and needs to "consistently re-evaluate" public policies to effectively deal with the problem.
"This is a new animal," Moore said. "We have to address the problem in a new way rather than just relying on the U.S. military and policing."
DFL gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe said the events of Sept. 11 haven't really changed his day-to-day campaign activities, although "whenever we get a box in the office we treat that with a little more concern."
Moe added, however, that he hopes for a large showing of voter interest on Nov. 5 at the polls.
"The strongest signal you can send to terrorists wanting to undermine your system is to have a massive turnout of voters," he said.