MN Senate Debate: Live Analysis

Tonight's debate started at 7 PM CT and runs until 8:30 PM at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

7:01 CT: It would appear that the crowd is cheering for the water pitcher, oh wait, no the candidates have just entered the stage.

7:02 CT: Senator Coleman went straight to the water pitcher.

7:04 CT: Two minute opening statements by each of the candidates. Three issues will then be discussed; economy, foreign policy and energy. The candidates will then respond to audience questions. Then two minutes for closing statements.

7:06 CT: Fmr. Senator Barkley to lead off the night. "I know the middle class because I grew up in the middle class...I even drove a Metro Mobility bus to make ends meet." Barkley leads off with an appeal to middle class voters.

7:08 CT: Franken followed Dean Barkley by reiterating his similar middle class roots. It'll be interesting to see if Norm follows the same path. "I'm going to be working for middle class families."

7:10 CT: "The people in Washington who caused this mess will be held accountable and thrown in jail," a very strange statement by a sitting US Senator. Norm later went on to conjure a parable that included FDR.

7:12 CT: "Does either Presidential candidate get to the heart of the [economic] matter, if not why?"

7:14 CT: Barkley goes first. He took the stance that neither Obama nor McCain has an adequate economic plan. Barkley focused on the need to have "pure" economics in which spending fulfills a very specific purpose. Look for Franken to side with Obama's plan. I'm curious to see which way Norm will go.

7:15 CT: Al Franken asked the moderator to repeat the question. "I'm the only one up here you would not have supported the bailout....[McCain] gets it a lot less than Senator Obama." Franken jumped on the Barack Obama Economic Train.

7:17 CT: Coleman just said "Dean's right." Norm better be careful or his lukewarm support may continue to slide over to Barkley. Norm then brought up Al's prior support for a single payer health care plan. Norm did not say McCain or Obama (or any such reference) in his response, therefore he did not answer the question.

7:20 CT: Dean Barkley's stance on getting out of the economic situation, "Our country can do anything it wants to if we have the political will to make it happen."

7:21 CT: Franken just stated that he does not support the concept of "tickle down" economics. He believes that "wealth starts in the middle class."

7:22 CT: Sen. Coleman referenced an energy bill from 2005 that Obama voted for. Coleman stated that "Franken would have voted against it."

7:23 CT: Can we ever win the war on terror. How will we know?

7:26 CT: "We have not won this war on terror because we took the wrong actions. Invading Afghanistan was the right thing to do...Then we made a tragic mistake [by going] to war with Iraq. Senator Coleman thinks going to war with Iraq was a good idea." Franken then went on to cite Paul Wellstone's vote against the war while debunking Coleman's principle of "it must have been a good vote because lots of other people voted for it." Franken later went on to say that "you can never win a war against a tactic."

7:27 CT: The question goes to Norm: "We have to win and failure really isn't an option...If Iran got a nuke...the Saudis would buy [a nuclear weapon]" Norm said this in the last debate and it didn't make sense then. If it was so easy for Saudi Arabia to buy a nuclear weapon, then why can't Iran do it. Norm's arguement for the war on terror is a slippery slope that ends in a giant fallacy.

7:29 CT: Now onto Barkley, "In hindsight I agree with Al, Paul Wellstone was right on his vote...It's time now for [Iraq] to decide their fate...they have to make that decision on their own, and we need to get out and let them make it." Barkley stated that the solution in Afghanistan is "to build schools, not drop bombs."

7:31 CT: Franken's view on the Iraq war, "We have to get out of Iraq, we need to do it responsibly, we need to do it now." Al then wiped out a devastating statistic. If the US Government was not funding Iraq we could have "58,000 additional teachers."

7:33 CT: "Everybody wants to end this war." You are a sitting Senator, Norm Coleman, help end it then. "I will not tell a parent whose son died: your son died for a mistake." Under that logic war is cyclical without end. You are then constantly fighting war to justify a mistake.

7:35 CT: Barkley: "Can we afford to be the world's policeman."

7:37 CT: Norm on alternative energy, "The french aren't braver than we are. About 80% of their energy is Nuclear." Norm says that he is working on the energy problem in a bipartisan way.

7:38 CT: "I've worked in a tripartisan way," Barkley loves this line. Barkley is furious at Congress for not passing the "Use-it-or-lose-it" doctrine.

7:40 CT: "The most important barrel of oil is the one you don't buy." Franken then went on to discuss the significant impact of Geo-Thermal energy on the job market.

7:41 CT: Norm Coleman is trying to like alternative energy breakthrough to the 2005 Energy Bill that he voted for.

7:43 CT: Barkley's rebuttal, "I'll throw out some facts...during [Norm's] years, you've given 20 million dollars in tax breaks to oil companies."

7:44 CT: Franken reference the possibility of a filibuster proof Democratic senate.

7:45 CT: Onto audience questions, many appear to be regarding education.

7:46 CT: First question to Norm: "Education doorway to success." Norm referenced his recent support for the doubling of Pell grants, a piece he believes is critical to financing higher education.

7:49 CT: Barkley called out Norm for not answering the question. "I studied economic development under the Ventura administration." Barkley believes that the internet is of paramount importance to sustaining rural business.

7:50 CT: Franken again asked to have question repeated, but this time it highlighted the fact that neither of the other candidates answered the question. Franken stated that "Pell Grant's [used to] pay for 86% of education now they pay around 40."

7:51 CT: "Smarter kids are going to be key to ending the brain drain [in rural Minnesota]." Norm just stated that the solution is the answer, a nice recurrence relation between cause and affect.

7:52 CT: Barkley just called Norm out on something, but my stream froze. Barkley then countered by pinning the blame (whatever the issue was) on Pawlenty; the crowd applauded.

7:54 CT: Franken wants to give anybody who wants to seek higher education a $5,000 tax credit.

7:55 CT: The moderator got confused. New question, appointing Supreme Court justices.

7:56 CT: Barkley only requires that Supreme Court Justices be "Qualified and follow president."

7:57 CT: On to Franken, "I don't want ideologues...I want a justice who believes that the Constitution is a living breathing [document]." Franken referenced Sandra Day O'Connor as a judge he admired. Franken then countered Barkley's attack on his $5,000 tax credit by saying the "Education pays for itself many times over."

7:58 CT: Coleman again brought up Franken's supposed support for a single payer health plan. This has nothing to do with Justices, he later stated that he can cover justice issue in "a minute."

8:00 CT: Barkley response, "[the economic situation] happened on your watch," in reference to Senator Coleman. "I hope the market does bounce back."

8:02 CT: Franken supports Barack Obama's health care plan. Franken then stated that he doesn't know where Norm Coleman stands on the health care issue. Franken than again referenced his dissatisfaction with "trickle down economics."

8:03 CT: Norm thinks that the answer to health care will lie somewhere in between Obama's plan and McCain's plan. Norm continues to harp on Franken's stance on single payer health care. Norm ended by saying that "there are no Mayo Clinics in Canada."

8:05 CT: New question relating to revising Minnesota mining and forestry.

8:06 CT: Franken stated that "until there is a bottom to the housing crisis, we will not be building new houses." Franken says that supports the forestry and mining industry and claimed that we can help those industries most by improving our general economy.

8:08 CT: Barkley partially blamed the Iron Ranges problems on poor trade agreements. "We need a Senator that will be tough on trade agreements."

8:10 CT: "I provided some stability against dumping...I've been there for timber...It is about jobs." This sequence by Norm Coleman was terrifyingly similar to the now (in)famous statement by Sarah Palin in her interview with Katie Couric.

8:11 CT: New question: Special interests & campaign money.

8:12 CT: "Bribery is illegal everywhere, except Congress," that statement pretty much sums ups Barkley's view of how government works. Barkley is tired of the current form of political campaigns. He then cited some finance numbers that depicted Franken in a bad light, but Norm in a worse light.

8:14 CT: Coleman stated that he's against current public campaign finance laws. Norm doesn't want tax payers paying for negative ads.

8:16 CT: Franken just destroyed Norm's gimmick of ending negative campaign ads, to a chorus of applause. Franken supports public finance because in the end he believes it would save Americans money in the long run by eliminating corporate earmarks that ultimately end up hurting Americans more. "Stand up to the special interest, don't take money from them."

8:18 CT: Barkley's rebuttal to Coleman on the suspension of his negative ads, "I'd love to here an apology for all the negative ads [Sen. Coleman] has done."

8:20 CT: Norm didn't apologize.

8:21 CT: Franken chastised Coleman for who he acts on behalf of. Franken continued by saying that Coleman may act, but he doesn't act on the best interest of Americans. "I'm going to fight for real folks."

8:22 CT: Closing statements.

8:23 CT: Barkley goes first. "Minnesota has an historic opportunity to show Washington who you feel." He referenced the negative campaigning tactics of Presidential politics and the growing negativity in the Senate race. Norm Coleman looks very agitated.

8:24 CT: "Elections are chance to hold your elected official accountable." Franken concludes his remarks with his classic "I ask for your vote" line.

8:26 CT: The night concludes with Coleman. "The better question is: who is best at fixing it." Norm then went on to list numerous bill which he has supported and helped pass. "Government needs to live within its means...Patriots not partisans." Norm then concluded by echoing Franken's line, "I ask for your vote in November."

Thanks to for providing a live stream of the debate.

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