Jumping back in where an abbreviated convention left off, two prominent Minnesota Republicans took the stage Tuesday for their time in the national spotlight. They also were part of a group that ratcheted up the political rhetoric tempered by natural disasters along the Gulf Coast a day earlier.

Sen. Norm Coleman, who is expected to have another speaking role later in the week, welcomed delegates to the city where he once was mayor, and Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke of her experience as a parent to foster children.

With the Xcel Center -- the arena that rose while he was mayor -- as a backdrop, Coleman said that "conservative principles restored this city."

Coleman, who is battling DFL endorsee Al Franken in his bid to retain his Senate seat, touted his own time as mayor, saying that 15 years ago downtown St. Paul was struggling with rising crime and the loss of the city's major employer. The city's Civic Center "was falling apart while leaders of the city were holding gang summits and raising taxes."

"We put a lid on taxes, never raised taxes for eight years. We made city government a trustworthy partner to local business," Coleman said, referring to 18,000 new jobs that he has said were added during his tenure from 1994 to 2002.

In a slap at his predecessor, DFLer James Scheibel (whom Coleman did not name), Coleman recalled the mayor before him saying, "I'm not indecisive ... am I?" -- a remark Scheibel actually once jokingly made in a 1991 interview. "That could be an Obama campaign slogan," Coleman said, generating applause and moving to the larger national political picture.

Coleman described GOP presidential candidate John McCain as a man who has never given in to adversity and who will adhere to conservative principles in the White House.

"To people who demand government reform, to folks who need jobs, to families who deserve to keep more of their own money by keeping taxes low, and to those around the world who yearn for freedom, John McCain has a face that says 'yes.'" Coleman said.

Bachmann speaks

Bachmann, a first-termer representing Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District, has been a foster parent for 23 children. She spoke shortly after Cindy McCain and the couple's adopted daughter, Bridget, entered the convention hall.

Bachmann, who is in a campaign against Elwyn Tinklenberg, a candidate endorsed by the DFL and the Independence Party, spoke against "a bloated government that crowds out personal freedom."

Referring to Democrats, Bachmann said: "They think service is run best by Washington bureaucrats, and a growing dependency on government-issued checks and they think you should be footing the bill."

"We must never forget what government is not," she said. "Government is not a philanthropic organization. Government is not the family. And government certainly is not the church. As Republicans we recognize that when you keep more of your hard-earned money, then you are free to spend it in the way as you want to, on the charities that touch your heart and make a difference in your community."

Afterward, the Tinklenberg campaign said Bachmann may have talked about service to families and children but voted against legislation that would reauthorize a health insurance program for 6.6 million children and expand coverage to nearly 4 million low-income children.

Mark Brunswick • 651-222-1636