A day after the collapse of a Minneapolis bridge along a busy stretch of I-35 West killed at least five people, wounded almost 80 people and left 30 others missing, Senate candidate Al Franken announced the suspension of his campaign in light of the tragic events in Minnesota.
"I'm relieved to report that, as far as we know, everyone associated with the campaign is OK, but the coming hours and days will be tense for everyone in Minnesota as details are confirmed," Franken, a writer and former "Saturday Night Live" comedian, said in a statement.
"I also wanted to let you know that, for the time being, we're suspending our campaign's activities," he announced.
Franken went on to express his condolences for those who have lost their lives in the tragedy, but also sounded a hopeful note for the future as the long and difficult recovery process gets under way.
"I want to extend our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have lost their lives, and those who are still missing," said the former radio talk-show host. "There are going to be hard days ahead as we realize the full extent of this tragedy and begin the massive task of rebuilding our infrastructure. But I know that with the support of our local, state, and federal authorities, our strong community will endure."
Democrats Suspend Senate Battle
Franken's chief opponent for the Democratic nomination, Mike Ciresi, was also impressed by the strength of the Minneapolis community.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to those devastated by this tragedy," Ciresi and his wife, Ann, said in a statement. "At this difficult time, we are grateful to those in our community who helped the victims after the 35W Bridge collapsed. All Minnesotans are united in support for everyone touched by this tragedy. We are thankful to be a part of such a wonderful community."
Congressional Delegation Requests Funds
The man whom Franken or Ciresi would oppose in the election, Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, traveled immediately from Washington, D.C., back to Minneapolis.
Coleman, along with fellow Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, requested immediate government relief funds.
"Destruction of this proportion is unconscionable for the state of Minnesota," said Coleman. "As the state's most traveled bridge located in the heart of the largest metropolitan center, the I-35W Bridge is one of the most important transportation arteries in Minnesota."
Both senators also joined together to introduce legislation creating a national infrastructure commission to address "the nation's fading public works infrastructure."
"The I-35W bridge tragedy was proof that this nation is long overdue for an infrastructure overhaul," said Coleman. "We simply cannot allow what happened in Minneapolis to occur anywhere else in this country."
Acting swiftly Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed the National Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2007.