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Cheney returns favor

MINNEAPOLIS -- Last year Vice President Dick Cheney convinced Tim Pawlenty to stay out of the U.S. Senate race. On Monday, Cheney made amends by raising more than $250,000 for Pawlenty's governor campaign. In an 18-minute speech in Minneapoli...

MINNEAPOLIS -- Last year Vice President Dick Cheney convinced Tim Pawlenty to stay out of the U.S. Senate race.

On Monday, Cheney made amends by raising more than $250,000 for Pawlenty's governor campaign.

In an 18-minute speech in Minneapolis' Hilton Hotel, Cheney talked about Pawlenty for about a minute, while using most of his speech to rally support for the administration's war on terrorism. He especially talked about the need to stop Iraq's Saddam Hussein from using his most deadly weapons.

Cheney did not mention his April 18, 2001 telephone call to Pawlenty in which he urged the Eagan Republican to give then-St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman a clear shot at the party's Senate endorsement. The vice president's call came 90 minutes before Pawlenty was to announce he intended to run for Senate.

"I thanked him for the phone call," Pawlenty said after Cheney left the Hilton.

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Pawlenty, locked in a race with Democrat Roger Moe, Tim Penny of the Independence Party and several minor candidates, said Cheney's call led him to seek the governor's office. That is a better fit for a father of two children, he said.

"We joked about it," Pawlenty said of private conversations he had with Cheney, although the vice president made no mention of the call during his speech.

The Eagan lawmaker said Cheney made no promises when he asked Pawlenty not to run for the Senate. When Pawlenty's campaign asked White House officials for help this year, they offered Cheney.

Outside the hotel, about 200 postal workers attending a national convention protested potential changes in the postal service.

The $500-a-plate lunch -- featuring chicken piccata, dauphinoise potatoes, green beans and baby carrots -- drew a mostly Twin Cities audience.

One of the few at the luncheon not from the metropolitan area was Doug Erickson, an apprentice electrician from the southwestern Minnesota community of Springfield. Erickson, however, did not have to fork over money to hear Cheney; he volunteered to help with security.

"It's always fun to see our leaders," Erickson said after Cheney's talk. "I like it when he talks about -- we -- are going to win this war on terrorism."

Erickson heard a lot of that talk Monday.

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"We know for certain that wars can never be won on the defensive," Cheney said, an apparent reference to the expected attempt to remove Hussein from power in Iraq. "To ensure the security of this nation, we must take the battle to the enemy and where necessary preempt serious threats against America before they materialize."

"We fight not for revenge against our enemies, but for freedom and security of our own people and for peace in the world," the vice president, former defense secretary and ex-Wyoming congressman said.

Cheney also promised strong action against corporate leaders who cook the books, but never mentioned accusations the company he used to head faces those very allegations.

"When there is corporate fraud, the American people can be certain the government will investigate and will prosecute wrong-doers," Cheney said.

Even before Cheney spoke, Moe issued a statement critical of the vice president, calling him "the poster boy for corporate greed."

"Cheney's behavior seems to mirror that of the growing legions of corporate executives being charged with fraud," Moe said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

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