If part of winning a U.S. Senate recount is controlling the ongoing news cycle, score one for the Norm Coleman campaign today.
In what can only be called a sunrise news conference at Coleman’s St. Paul headquarters, campaign attorney Fritz Knaak and campaign manager Cullen Sheehan called this morning – at 8:15 a.m. – for a “truce” between the Franken and Coleman sides on challenged ballots during the recount.
“In the spirit of the holidays” was one of the reasons.
(There was no smiley face on the memo, however.)
Knaak this morning called for a meeting of both sides to work out how to reduce the challenges.
But, according to the secretary of state’s website, the Coleman campaign has challenged more ballots throughout the week-long recount process than Franken. That total number now tops 3,500 to date, with Coleman challenging 78 more ballots.
The news event followed by a few hours the faxing of a letter from Knaak to Franken lawyer Marc Elias acknowledging that “both campaigns are engaged in a mounting game of ballot challenging that serves no useful purpose.”
Knaak and Sheehan noted that Tuesday in Sherburne County alone there were 700 challenges.
The Coleman campaign says they’ve seen a dramatic uptick in Franken challenges and, they claim, it’s because the Franken team needs to reduce the actual count to make the outcome appear closer than the Coleman folks believe it will be. This charge of “deflation” of the recount has been lodged by the Coleman campaign for the past few days.
“This process is not about public relations,” Knaak said at a news conference timed for an hour and 15 minutes before the State Canvassing Board was set to meet.
Knaak continues to win the war of marvelous phrases and sound bites.
He said there is an “obscene amount of ballots” being challenged in “the recount version of mutually assured destruction.”
So far, no response from the Franken team, but it’s early. Really early.
The hearing before the State Canvassing Board is set to begin at 9:30 a.m.
How that goes could render this morning’s news conference old news.