Both Gov. Jesse Ventura, an Independent, and Republicans were furious over the transformation of the memorial service into a highly partisan event. Ventura and his wife walked out, shaking their heads, during Kahn's speech. "What a complete, total, absolute sham," Vin Weber, a former House member from Minnesota and now an adviser to Coleman, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The Democratic party "clearly intends to exploit Wellstone's memory totally, completely, and shamelessly for political gain. To them, Wellstone's death, apparently, was just another campaign event."
Ventura says turning a memorial into a political event was despicable. "I went to pay my respects in the manner we were asked to do so, and I think that it was very deceitful to turn it into a political rally," he said.
Paul Wellstone Funeral - Election Rally
Ventura says he was "disgusted" that the public Wellstone memorial turned into a political rally. Ventura walked out of the memorial service, which ended with calls to continue Wellstone's legacy at the polls.
Democrat, Hypocrisy, Editorial, Liberal, Election, Character, Brilliance, Oops, Politics
But the solemnity of death and the grace of Midwestern humor are overshadowed tonight by the angry piety of populism. Most of the event feels like a rally. The touching recollections are followed by sharply political speeches urging Wellstone's supporters to channel their grief into electoral victory. The crowd repeatedly stands, stomps, and whoops. The roars escalate each time Walter Mondale, the former vice president who will replace Wellstone on the ballot, appears on the giant screens suspended above the stage. "Fritz! Fritz!" the assembly chants. -William Saletan
Democrat, Hypocrisy, Liberal, Election, Character, Brilliance, Oops, Politics
One Democrat who quickly sensed that the service was a political disaster was Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a possible 2004 presidential contender. The next morning Kerry called Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott, who had been booed at the memorial, to tell him how bad he felt.