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Norm Coleman seems to have evolved in his assessment of Trump

MinnPost file photo by Jay Weiner
Norm Coleman: "I think there’s a great deal of enthusiasm in the center-right, pro-Israel community about President Trump."

It’s easy to understand, and perhaps not that hard to sympathize with normal, mainstream Republicans who had to first figure out their position on Donald Trump when he emerged as a serious threat to win the GOP presidential nomination, and then perhaps adjust it when their party’s prospects became totally entwined with Trump’s  political fortunes.

Today’s case study is Minnesota’s own Norm Coleman, a former DFLer turned Republican who served as two terms as mayor of St. Paul and one as U.S. senator. (Coleman was also the Republican nominee for governor in 1998, the year Jesse Ventura was elected.)

Based on what he wrote a year ago about Trump, and what he was quoted recently as saying about him, Coleman seems to be among those who have traveled the greatest distance from Trump critic to Trump enthusiast.

In March of 2016, in an op-ed for the Star Tribune headlined “I will never vote for Donald Trump; He’s a bigot, a misogynist, a fraud and a bully,” Coleman wrote:  

I won’t vote for Donald Trump because of who he isn’t. He isn’t a Republican. He isn’t a conservative. He isn’t a truth teller. He’s not a uniter. Donald Trump isn’t the leader America needs after eight years of a president who deliberately divided us and fanned the flames of racial and socioeconomic strife — and, by doing so, diminished America’s standing in the world.

I also won’t vote for Donald Trump because of who he is. A bigot. A misogynist. A fraud. A bully.

It may have been the strongest Never-Trumper piece written by any Republican. I can’t be sure. He even dropped an F-bomb on Trump (in this case, the F-word was “fascist.” Coleman’s 2016 piece ended thus:

 It is said that our leaders are a reflection of who we are. If we believe that, then people like Donald Trump will fall. If not, then people like Donald Trump will rise up, and like every fascist before them, will lead a nation to its doom.

America is a great nation. We were a great nation long before Donald Trump sold us on a slogan — and we can be a great nation without Trump’s false promises built on a legacy of fiction.

Keep America great. Fire Donald Trump.

Of course, if we’re going to be big boys and girls, we have to take political reality into account. The never-Trumpers failed to prevent Trump from becoming the Republican nominee or the current incumbent president. It’s awkward, and they have dealt with it in various ways, but many of them tiptoed as far away from their never-Trumper rhetoric as possible and crossed the line into Trump praisers.

Among his current activities, Coleman chairs the Republican Jewish Coalition, which advocates for Israel from a Republican and conservative viewpoint.

Because of the strength of his 2016 denunciation of Trump, I was surprised to see Coleman pop up in a recent McClatchy piece about the RJC, in which he was asked “how the center-right Jewish community feels about the Trump administration one year in.”

“I think they’re feeling thrilled,” Coleman said. “If you look at the change of what has happened with Israel, in terms of moving the capital to Jerusalem, the tough approach to Iran, holding the UN finally accountable. … I think there’s a great deal of enthusiasm in the center-right, pro-Israel community about President Trump.”

If you were trying to be fair (and I try to be fair), you would note that Coleman’s list of things the RJC likes about Trump are limited to moves relating to Israel that Republican Jews favor.

That’s true. But if you were trying to be tough, but fair, you would note that all of Trump’s moves that Coleman praised were things Trump was promising to do as a candidate, back when Coleman was calling him “a bigot, a misogynist, a fraud and a bully” and, sort of, a “facist.”  

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Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/13/2018 - 09:38 am.


    Senator finger-in-the-wind has been most consistent in the malleability of the positions he takes.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/13/2018 - 10:01 am.

    Hey, don’t hold a man like Coleman to his word.

    He’s a man of the people, or the spokesman for the financial/banking interests.

    He’s a Zionist, or he’s a lobbyist representing Saudi Arabian interests,

    And, in the 2015/2016 time period he was raising money for Lindsey Graham, who was never Trump until, well, um Trump.

    It’s a love for power and access.

    Note that principle does not enter into it.


  3. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/13/2018 - 10:53 am.

    I’m Shocked! Shocked!

    When Coleman campaigned for US Senate against Sen. Wellstone, Norm said he wanted to get beyond partisan politics. Given the way Don Trump has governed, in such a partisan manner, I’m very surprised Coleman’s words don’t match his actions.

  4. Submitted by Patrick Tice on 02/13/2018 - 11:24 am.

    Coleman is a good example

    …of why you should never pull the lever marked “R”. They pretend to be reasonable, but after they are elected, everything is about sticking with the party and to hell with governance, truth, promises, and everything else.

  5. Submitted by Leon Webster on 02/13/2018 - 11:38 am.

    Coleman the Chameleon

    I think it was Garrison Keillor who said that Norm changes his morals as easily as most of us change our overcoat. It was accurate then and continues to be so today

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/13/2018 - 01:37 pm.

    Another example

    of why most American Jews are Democrats (or further left).
    Israeli Jews may favor Republican U.S. candidates, but they’re not supposed to vote in our elections.

  7. Submitted by William Beyer on 02/13/2018 - 02:11 pm.

    Cui bono?

    Last time I checked, Norm was a paid shill for the Saudis, Trump’s favorite thugs.

  8. Submitted by Joe Musich on 02/13/2018 - 02:24 pm.

    I still have the …

    St Paul Saints election stalemate bobble head with both this guy and Al Franken. Still think Franken is the better of the two men. I wonder what really forced this guy to really go for Trump ? I has got to be something we may e do not know about yet. Guy has got a double spaced closet of what’s up!

  9. Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/13/2018 - 03:33 pm.

    Norm Coleman

    has always known which way the winds were blowing, whether as a college student with a bullhorn or as a politician. He is one of the most adroit self-serving politicians in the nation.

  10. Submitted by Sheila Kihne on 02/13/2018 - 04:39 pm.


    Pathetic. More pathetic is the fact that, Mr Coleman — foreign lobbyist– if one of the kingmakers in Minnesota GOP politics. Yet, he’s absolutely clueless on Minnesota politics, and in need of a dictionary– as evidenced by his statements on Trump. He won because Wellstone died and his followers couldn’t contain themselves at his funeral. He lost to Al Franken….and yeah I mean lost…you can’t win as a Republican in this state unless you win by more votes than can be found in a trunk.

    Minnesota Republicans would be wise to dump Norm, whose finger-in-the-wind mealy-mouthed moderate Chamber of Commerce politics will never appeal to Trump voters– who almost delivered Minnesota for Trump, a truly astonishing feat considering the weakness of the GOP here and the fact that Trump didn’t spend a dime in MN while Hillary had offices all over the state. Of course politicians like Norm and the equally awful Erik Paulsen came out and publicly trashed Trump– had they supported him, sold them to their RINO buddies, he would’ve won MN. By party rules, they should’ve been kicked out of the party for not voting for the nominee… can’t even be a local party chair if you didn’t vote for the nominee. But of course Big Buck Norm delivers the cash, so he still gets an opinion in GOP politics here. Never mind the fact we can’t win statewide elections. As long as the local swamp here gets paid by trickle down Saudi and Wall Street money– it’s all good.

  11. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/14/2018 - 09:27 am.

    Why the Indignation?

    Why is anyone upset over this? Is there anything in Norm Coleman’s history that would lead you to expect consistency, or adherence to any principle other than his own expedience?

    Coleman was a DFLer when it suited his needs. When it did not, he changed to the Republican side. His tenure in the Senate was marked by his obedience to President Bush. In 2016, he was a firm never-Trumper, but now–surprise, surprise–he finds much to like, now that Trump is in the White House.

    Norm Coleman is who he is. There is no reason his remarks now should be viewed as anything other than perfectly consistent with the way he has conducted himself in the past. This is not “evolution,” it’s a natural progression.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/14/2018 - 12:15 pm.

      Speaking For Myself

      I am still shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 02/14/2018 - 01:07 pm.

      “Vicar of Bray” comes to mind.

      An old British song with a most amusing lyric that fits Mr Coleman quite well. If you don’t know it, I commend it to your listening pleasure. I know the Richard Dyer-Bennet version.

  12. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/14/2018 - 02:47 pm.

    Shouldn’t that be


  13. Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2018 - 09:42 am.

    Same old Norm

    I don’t think there has ever been a less-principled politician than Norm Coleman. This guy will say and do anything.

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