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VIDEO

Body slam politics in Minnesota Governor's race (10-27-98) Real: 28K | 56K Windows Media: 28K | 56K


RELATED STORIES

Transcript: Inside Politics interviews Jesse Ventura (10-27-98)

Former pro wrestler enlivens Minnesota governor's race (10-01-98)

CQ Profile: Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey, III

CQ Profile: Norm Coleman

CQ Profile: Jesse Ventura


RELATED SITES

Norm Coleman for Governor Web site

Humphrey for Governor Web site

Jesse Ventura for Governor Web site

Minnesota Election Information Web site


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Post your opinions on the November races

Jesse "The Body" Ventura plays the spoiler in Minnesota gov. race

ST.PAUL, Minnesota (October 27) -- If Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic Hubert H."Skip" Humphrey III thought their race for the Minnesota governor's seat would be a traditional two party contest, they were sadly mistaken. A third party spoiler has come from behind to shake up the race, just like he use to shake up the world of professional wrestling.

Much like the Reform party's founder, Ross Perot, did in the 1992 presidential race, Jesse "The Body" Ventura has used his Reform party nomination -- and improbable popularity in the polls -- to influence the close race between the two major party candidates.

Ventura
Jesse "The Body" Ventura  

"You know, many people know me, probably from the radio; they know me from my wrestling days," Ventura says.

Ventura spent many years in professional wrestling. He's also acted in movies like "Running Man." He was a Navy SEAL, a talk show host and mayor of a Minneapolis suburb. But wrestling is what made him famous.

Now's he's making a political statement.

"You have the choice of electing two career politicians, it is their career," Ventura tells a large classroom full of students. "Or you can elect a person from the private sector."

Ventura's protest campaign has particularly eroded Humphrey's support -- an ironic twist since it was Humphrey who refuses to appear in debates with Coleman unless Ventura was invited.

MINNESOTA GOVERNOR POLL Oct. 15-18

    Humphrey 35%
    Coleman 34%
    Ventura 21%

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune/KMSP-TV
Margin of Error: +/- 3.5% pts

The latest major poll shows Humphrey in a statistical dead heat with Coleman and Ventura has gone from off-the-wall, to 21 percent.

Maybe it's his radio ads and their political counter-culture message. Up until now, Ventura hasn't been able to afford TV commercials. But on the radio he sure makes people listen.

"I believe Minnesota should return the entire $4 billion tax surplus to the hard working people who paid it in. I believe Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones are two of the greatest rock bands ever," Ventura says in one of his radio ads.

Coleman
Norm Coleman  

Now that the two major party candidates are paying attention to Ventura they're vying to attract his supporters, arguing that the wrestling ring is no training ground for the state capitol where the political wrestling is very real

Meanwhile, Humphrey and Coleman also focus on their traditional campaigns. Humphrey, the state attorney general and the son of the Minnesota political legend is carrying on the liberal family traditions.

"What the state government is going to do in the next four years is going to affect very dramatically your life," Humphrey says.

Coleman, the mayor of St.Paul is a Democrat-turned Republican who has campaigned with the likes of Jack Kemp, and sounds like him.

"When you cut taxes, you stimulate investment, you stimulate growth, you stimulate opportunity," Coleman says.

Humphrey
"Skip" Humphrey  

As for Ventura, he's no longer just a sideshow.

"Hopefully I won't get in trouble today speaking like I did yesterday," Ventura tells Kiwanis Club meeting a day after a report claimed he had advocated legalized prostitution. Ventura insists a reporter had taken his words out of context.

"I have to spend all week being politically correct," the anti-establishment Ventura says.

But being politically correct is precisely what Ventura has not been and caution may be the price of his success, trying to be establishment may be what ultimately allows one of the other candidates to slip out of Ventura's hammerlock.

CNN's Bob Franken contributed to this report.

MORE STORIES:

Tuesday, October 27, 1998

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