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Coleman promises 'vigorous campaign'

Republican calls for 'exchange of ideas'

GOP Senate nominee Norm Coleman and wife Laurie
GOP Senate nominee Norm Coleman and wife Laurie

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) -- The Republican who was running against Sen. Paul Wellstone said he will relaunch a vigorous but abbreviated campaign Wednesday, after a memorial service for the Democrat who was killed in a plane crash.

Wellstone was in a tight race with Norm Coleman, former mayor of St. Paul, when Wellstone, his wife, daughter and five others were killed in a plane crash Friday. Wellstone's family has asked former Vice President Walter Mondale to take his place on the November 5 ballot, Democratic sources said.

In an interview on CNN's Inside Politics, Coleman said he will wait until after a Tuesday night memorial service for Wellstone before restarting his campaign.

"It should be a vigorous campaign. It should be an exchange of ideas. It would be a wonderful thing to have. But again, can we wait until Wednesday?" he said.

"On Wednesday we're going to have to go from being in mourning and grieving to now, the reality is look to the future. ... There are lots of folks getting geared up and the reality is that there will be, starting Wednesday, six days left," Coleman said.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, as the Democrats are known in Minnesota, has until Thursday to replace Wellstone on the ballot. Sources tell CNN that Mondale is likely to announce his willingness to run in Wellstone's stead Wednesday.

Mondale represented Minnesota in the Senate from 1964 to 1976 before becoming Jimmy Carter's vice president and the Democrats' 1984 presidential nominee. If he runs for Senate, it would be his first state campaign since 1972.

Republican operatives already are portraying the 74-year-old Mondale as a voice from the past, with Coleman as the face of the future. Coleman, 53, would not comment directly on the possibility of Mondale's return to Minnesota politics, but said voters would expect the candidates to debate.

"I think Minnesotans will expect whoever's in there in the last five days to be challenged," he said. "That's part of who we are in Minnesota. No one ever gets handed anything. It's no walk in the park."

The White House recruited Coleman to challenge Wellstone, and President Bush was in Minnesota earlier this month to campaign on his behalf. White House officials told CNN they will let Coleman call the shots when he restarts his campaign, and Bush was scheduled to come to Minnesota to campaign for him Sunday.

A White House official told CNN that a Coleman victory now appeared "improbable," given the extensive news coverage of Wellstone's death and Mondale's expected return to politics. But other Republican sources said their polls indicated a Mondale-Coleman race would be closer than many expect.

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