The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Question and Answer session with Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer

By Matt Day

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, one of the two remaining Democratic-Farmer-Labor senatorial candidates along with Al Franken, won the precinct caucus on the Macalester campus Feb. 5. A St. Thomas Professor, Nelson-Pallmeyer spoke with The Mac Weekly March 6. Nelson-Pallmeyer makes references in the interview to his former opponent Mike Ciresi, who dropped out of the race March 10.

The Mac Weekly: Did you find the crowd at Mac pretty receptive?

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer: Very, yeah. You know, there are issues that I think we [had] a lot of commonality on in that room. I’m leading with environmental concerns and I believe that we just have a matter of years here for us to get it right to address climate change. And I’m proposing pretty bold and practical alternatives to build renewable energy.

You won a majority of delegates at the precinct caucus held on Macalester’s campus. Do you attribute it to your positions on those issues, the environment and foreign policy?

I think so, yeah. I think also students appreciate and people sense that I’m doing this out of a sense of urgency in where the country is headed and sense of possibility if we build a movement-based politics to respond. I think they appreciate that I’m not.asking for their vote and promising to go fix things. They understand that I’m trying to engage them in a movement building process.

Have you done other similar outreach across the state?

Yeah, and I’ll be doing a lot more of that as time goes on. And I think really one of the most interesting debates of this campaign has been up at Duluth. [It] was held at Saint Scholastica, and there you had a great crowd of students and community people. And I think in some ways that might be the turning my campaign and in this whole election was how electrified people were around my agenda.

Speaking of the next number of months, what are your plans? What is your campaign’s strategy for the months leading up to the convention in June?

A lot of what I’m doing is both seeking delegates that come out of the senate district conventions now. Then, in addition to that, my plan is to keep doing outreach and holding as many listening sessions in communities around the state as possible. I really hear, to continue to hear from Minnesotans. Another thing that I’m hoping will happen is I would really like for there to be a public debate in every congressional district between now and that June endorsement convention. I don’t know exactly how I can encourage that, but I certainly am going to try.

I’ve spoken with a couple delegates here on campus who said last Thursday was the first time they had the opportunity to hear you speak.

From my vantage point, the more people actually can encourage and even push candidates, myself included, to be as clear as we can be about how we understand the world… how we propose to deal with issues, health care and what our stance has been and continues to be on what to do about Iraq. I expect Iraq is going to explode in the next six months, and it’s going to be a major election issue this fall, which is unfortunate in many ways, but also an advantage to my campaign because I don’t think the other candidates are going to be able to debate Norm Coleman well on that issue because of their either silence about the war in the case of Ciresi or their support for the war in the case of Al Franken.

Now that the excitement from the Super Tuesday caucuses and many of the senate district conventions is over, do you expect the campaign to cool down for a while or should it stay pretty grueling?

I think there’s been so much attention focused on the presidential [race].that helped get a huge turnout and I’m actually hoping that we’re going to have a lot more attention now paid on the senate race and on the candidates and on our different positions. Things are going to actually continue to heat up.

Some pretty recent polling has you behind both Al Franken and Mike Ciresi in a potential general election with Norm Coleman. What does your campaign think of those numbers?

My campaign has been focused on reaching DFLers that are part of this process, and if you look at the numbers there, the numbers are showing that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer after 5 months is running a really strong second and rising. Mike Ciresi is third and Al Franken is holding on to number one but losing ground. And if you go to the Minnesota Public Radio poll.I’m winning that in a landslide. So I think that actually bodes very well for the next phase of the campaign. I like that movement that I see… and with the DFL party endorsement in June then we launch into that next phase, which I anticipate will go over very well.

Finally, what message would you like to get across to students likely to vote in this campaign?

I think that this is kind of a grueling process, traveling all over the state day after day…and all those things that go along with running a statewide campaign, but also one of the things that fills me with hope and energy is to see young people really, really engaging on these important issues. So, keep it up, that would be my message, keep organizing, keep mobilizing, keep raising your voices.

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