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Three Minnesotans Speak on GOP Convention's First Day
By Michael Khoo
July 31, 2000
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The Republican National Convention is underway in Philadelpia. The first day's speakers included three Minnesota candidates: Senator Rod Grams, who is up for re-election this year, and Congressional candidates Linda Runbeck and John Kline.

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GRAMS' APPEARANCE DURING the convention's opening session was an opportunity to highlight a Republican incumbent that many consider particularly vulnerable. Grams spoke for roughly three minutes alongside other Senate candidates. He focused on the Republican tax-cutting theme.

"Washington taxes love through the marriage penalty, taxes old age by taxing Social Security benefits, and even taxes death through the death tax. Well, it's time we put the taxpayers first," Grams said.

Grams will face challengers from the DFL and the Independence party in November. Two candidates for the U.S. House also took center stage as the convention got underway. State senator Linda Runbeck of Circle Pines is the Republican-endorsed candidate for the Fourth Congressional District seat being vacated by DFLer Bruce Vento. Vento is stepping down to fight a rare form of lung cancer. During her minute of podium time, Runbeck made a not-so-veiled reference to President Clinton's personal life.

"And we need a champion in the White House who will do more than talk about women's issues while exploiting women at every opportunity. In November, the people of the Fourth District will elect a Republican woman to Congress. And we will choose a president who cares about women: George W. Bush," she said.

Runbeck was one of fewer than two dozen congressional candidates to address the delegates. Joining her was fellow Minnesotan John Kline who is challenging Sixth District Congressman Bill Luther. Kline says he and Runbeck represent a chance for the GOP to build on its majority status.

"It underscores what's happening in the election this year. We really do have a chance to not only hold the U.S. House of Representatives, but gain seats. These are terrific people up there. They're wonderful candidates; they're working hard; they've got great organizations; they've got a great message. And I feel really good about it," Kline said.

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Listen online to convention speeches by Sen. Rod Grams and Linda Runbeck.
Kline unsuccessfully challenged Luther in 1998. But he says he feels more confident this year. State party chair Ron Eibensteiner says he thinks Texas Governor George W. Bush's strength at the top of the ticket could lead to something of a political grand slam in Minnesota.

"And we're very optimistic that we'll elect John Kline to the House and Linda Runbeck and Mark Kennedy, maintain control of the House, re-elect Senator Rod Grams. And I think that the national party is beginning to recognize that," Eibensteiner said.

Eibensteiner says the invitations for three of the state's candidates to speak today demonstrate the national party is beginning to question Minnesota's reputation as a Democratic stronghold. Along with the prominent positions at the convention, the candidates will also receive national help in their races. Their help will come where it counts most - with fundraising.

At the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, I'm Michael Khoo, Minnesota Public Radio.