MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Veteran campaigner Joan Mondale and actress/model Laurie Coleman are playing high-profile roles in the U.S. Senate race between their husbands, Democrat Water Mondale and Republican Norm Coleman.
Joan Mondale, 72, said she and her husband never considered turning down Democratic pleas to take over for Sen. Paul Wellstone, who was killed in a plane crash last week.
"Oh heavens, no," she said. "We're public servants. That's what we do."
Mondale said she plans to be at her husband's side during the short campaign. "It's not easy, and we don't have much time," she said. "I want to be with him. We'll do the best we can."
Laurie Coleman keeps an apartment in Los Angeles so she can pursue her acting career, but lately she's been appearing at campaign stops with her husband.
Joan Mondale already has a long career in politics under her belt. She's testified in Congress, met with world leaders, attended rallies and receptions -- even licked envelopes.
When her husband was vice president in the Carter administration, she was nicknamed "Joan of Art" for work on behalf of the arts, including sponsoring exhibitions in the vice president's mansion and testifying in favor of the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a skilled ceramist.
Joan Mondale and Laurie Coleman share a love of the arts.
"When you marry somebody, you start to live life together, but people need to live their own dreams, too," said Laurie Coleman, 45.
"For me, telling him he shouldn't be in politics would be like for him to say I shouldn't be an artist. And Norman never expected me to stop pursuing my art."
When she heard about Wellstone's crash, she felt a sickening wave course through her body. She and her husband have lost two infant children to terminal illness.
"I remember what it's like to bury somebody you love," she said. "I've been through grief."
"This week has been so completely devastating," she added. "I'm thinking about them, not me. I burst into tears. I think of Mary McEvoy, who has a son my daughter's age. My heart goes out to the families."
Laurie Coleman has danced with ballet companies in New York and Boston, performed in "The Nutcracker Fantasy" for the Minnesota Dance Theatre and has acted on Twin Cities stages.
She recently completed a pilot for NBC, a midseason replacement called "Kingpin," in which she plays a receptionist. She has been a finalist for at least one other TV role, but there have also been many disappointments.
"I've gotten tougher about myself," she said. "I can't take anything personally."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.