National/State: MN GOP Has Mixed Feelings About Bush
From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 29, 2005:
Bush is asset and liability to state GOP
But for now, fundraising prowess outweighs impact of poor ratings
Although President Bush's job-approval ratings are in the tank, he's still No. 1 when it comes to raising campaign cash.
That's why Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kennedy invited Bush to the Twin Cities on Dec. 9 to speak at a fundraising luncheon.
The president is expected to raise more than $1 million for Kennedy, the 6th District congressman. Then Bush will quickly get out of town before he becomes a drag on Kennedy's campaign.
SCENE: (An undisclosed location somewhere in the Twin Cities. Backstage at an unnamed banquet hall in an unidentified convention center.)
TIME: (December 9th, 2005. Lunchtime.)
(Congressman Mark Kennedy paces frantically back and forth behind the curtain, rubbing his hands nervously. Every so often he checks his watch, smoothes back his hair, checks and rechecks his fly.)
(Senator Norm Coleman backs into the scene from beyond the curtain, bowing, nodding and waving to the crowd on the other side.)
Kennedy: (jumping up and down and tugging on Coleman’s sleeve) Is he here yet? Is he here?
Coleman: (slapping Kennedy away, drawing the curtain shut so the crowd can’t see them) Get off me, jackass! (hisses) No, he isn’t here yet! Shut up!
Kennedy: But isn’t this exciting, Norm? He’s coming! He’s coming here to Minnesota!
Coleman: For God’s sake, will you keep your voice down, you moron?
Kennedy: You shouldn’t call me a moron, Norm. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, you know.
Coleman: You were the first person in your family to take a bath, you “Deliverance” hillbilly! (Mopping his sweaty brow, pacing.) I don’t believe this. Hundreds of big money Republicans sitting out there at this luncheon and you have to go and invite the President!
Kennedy: But what’s wrong with that, Norm? The President’s a Republican, too—
Coleman: (clapping his hand over Kennedy’s mouth) For Christ’s sake, will you—(he looks anxiously behind the curtain) It’s okay, I don’t think they heard. (Unclasps Kennedy’s mouth, adjusts his suit, speaks as if to a child) Now look, Marky. I know you thought you were doing the right thing, inviting the President to campaign for us—
Kennedy (nodding vigorously) He’s my hero!
Coleman: (putting his finger to Kennedy’s lips) SSSHH! SSHH! (then whispers, a big phony smile plastered on his face) Mine too! Mine too! (puts his arm around Kennedy’s shoulder, steers him away from the curtains) But, umm, politics is a kind of funny thing, Mark, remember how I told you that before?
Coleman: So this year… this particular year, with the war in Iraq, and the way the government responded to Hurricane Katrina, and rising gas prices, and the CIA-leak scandal and the economy the way it is… it might not be such a good idea to have HIM hanging around here too long, see what I mean?
Kennedy: (thinks for a moment, then) I don’t get you, Norm.
Coleman: (grabs Kennedy by the neck and starts to throttle him) Then maybe you’ll get THIS, pinhead…don’t EVER invite him here again while I’m in town, he didn’t WIN Minnesota, and it could COST us Minnesota just to be SEEN with him, do you get THAT?
(Kennedy, turning blue in the face, tongue protruding, points frantically over Coleman’s shoulder trying to divert his attention to a sinister figure that has skulked on to the scene. The figure wears a black slouch hat and a black cape, carries two big black suitcases, tries to sneak in unnoticed.)
Coleman: (mortified, releases Kennedy, whirls on figure) Oh, my God!
Kennedy: (gasping) Norm! (ack, ack) It’s him!
Coleman: (to Kennedy) Shut up! (to strange figure in black that is sneaking away after dropping the suitcases) We didn’t see anybody!
Kennedy: Mr. President!
(Coleman and the strange figure freeze in their tracks. The figure in black makes a “damn! I’ve been caught” gesture with his fist, then slowly removes the slouch hat—revealing that it is indeed President Bush.)
Bush: (embarrassed) How you boys, doin’...
Coleman: (even more embarrassed, looking away) Oh, fine, fine…
Kennedy: (rushing towards Bush) Oh, Mr. President, you’re my hero, I always vote the way you tell me to, sir, it’s so exciting—
Bush: Yeah, yeah, keep the hands off, no hands—
(Steve Sviggum ducks in from behind the curtain.)
Sviggum: Norm, I think these guys are just about ready to—(sees Bush, his jaw drops open) GAAAGHK! (He instantly ducks back behind the curtain again.)
Bush: Okay, look, fellas, there’s a million in the suitcases there, that ought to see you guys through the next election, this is a farm state, right?
Kennedy: (opening suitcase, grabbing wads of cash) Oh, boy! A million dollars!
Bush: (slapping on his slouch hat) Yeah, buy some T.V. time, promise them farmers some magic beans or something, well, I gotta go, nice seein’ ya, fellas, “freedom” and all that stuff, adios—(tries door) Goddammit, where’s the exit? This is a fire door, this ain’t supposed to be locked—
Kennedy: But don’t you want to go out and say a few words to the—
(Coleman cold-cocks Kennedy with a fire extinguisher. Kennedy collapses into the pile of cash.)
Coleman: (quickly, under his breath to Bush, pointing) Service elevator. Leads to the kitchen. If security tries to stop you, tell them you’re an anti-gay marriage activist.
Bush: (hurrying away) Thanks, Norm. I was never here. (disappears stage left)
Coleman: (a la Sergeant Schulz) I know nothing, I see nothing… (he stuffs a couple of hundred grand into his tux pockets, steps over Kennedy, and then out beyond the curtains again, again acknowledging the applause and blowing kisses.)