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Mondale mines votes in northern Minnesota
Senate candidate Walter Mondale spent the weekend holding town meetings in rural Minnesota. On Sunday, he visited a farm outside of Moorhead in northwestern Minnesota. On Saturday, he visited the Iron Range.

St. Paul, Minn. — All day on Saturday in northeastern Minnesota, Walter Mondale was surrounded by supporters. From Duluth to Grand Rapids, Mondale implored DFL activists to work on his behalf like they've never worked before. At the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Mondale made it clear he's counting on northeastern Minnesota, which has long been the DFL stronghold in the state.

"This is a fateful campaign, faithful election and we have no time; we're practically there. This area will have a lot to do with how this comes out. I thank you for being here but I plead with you to just let her rip between now and election day," Mondale said.

On the issues, from stop to stop, Mondale defined himself as someone who would work on behalf of children and senior citizens, bolstering education spending, preserving the current Social Security and finding a way to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for older Americans through Medicare.

And Mondale told supporters, he'll be in a good position to follow through on his promises if he's elected next Tuesday.

"I know the Senate; I know its rules; I know how to get things done there. I was the president of the Senate for four years, and under the Senate rules a vice president who returns to the Senate is automatically a part of Senate leadership," he said.

Mondale told reporters Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has assured him he would be part of the Senate's leadership's if he's elected.

In Duluth and Virginia, Mondale took questions from the assembled groups. He said he opposes the Republican-backed missile defense system, saying tests have repeatedly shown the technology does not work. He also said he would work to roll back the Republican tax cut and use the savings to reduce payroll taxes.

At a combined Veterans of Foreign Wars-American Legion club in the Iron Range town of Virginia, Mondale appealed to union steel workers, saying he'd fight hard against the threatened relaxation of anti-dumping laws which union leaders say could flood the U.S. market with more inexpensive foreign steel, eliminating more American jobs.

"One of the first things I'm going to do when I go to the Senate -- if you let me do that -- is join the steel caucus and work with Jim Oberstar and the others and take this fight forward," he said.

Throughout his swing through Minnesota, Mondale has steadfastly avoided mentioning Republican Norm Coleman's name. He does, however, underscore his Minnesota roots and long career of public service.

Speaking through a bullhorn at the foot of Chisholm's gigantic iron miner statue, Mondale said ultimately next week's election for voters should come down to the issue of trust. It's the same point former Sen. Paul Wellstone often made in an effort to contrast himself with Republican Senate candidate Norm Coleman.

"You know me. We've worked together. This isn't the first time we've been in campaigns. And this issue is about trust as well as what we say can you trust what we say?" he said.

From event to event, Mondale supporters praised the former vice president for agreeing to get back into politics - one called him a saint. Many held homemade signs; some even homemade stickers, like the one Rachel Scott was wearing which read - Fritz Blitz.

"He's somebody that this point in his career has absolutely nothing he's concerned about except the public interest and I feel that he has the same agenda that Paul Wellstone does and that is to stand up to the little guy and to be the honest voice, the voice of conscience fun the United States Senate," she said.

After attending a Lutheran church service on Sunday, Mondale hosted a town hall campaign meeting at a farm near Moorhead. Mondale had been scheduled to appear at a DFL rally late Sunday afternoon, but instead will focus on debate preparations for an MPR-KARE debate on Monday morning. Mondale told reporters he's looking forward to squaring off Monday with Coleman.

"I think that's an important part of democracy to contrast and compare and that ever campaign I've been in I've always had a lot of debates," he said.

The other Senate candidates criticized Mondale for agreeing to just one debate. Mondale has defended his one debate decision saying his less than one week campaign didn't leave him with enough time to travel the state to meet with voters and participate in numerous debates.

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