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Franken says he expects to win U.S. Senate trial, rips Coleman

ST. PAUL (AP) -- Democrat Al Franken expressed confidence Wednesday that he'll win the Minnesota Senate election trial, but he declined to rule out an appeal if he doesn't.

Franken spoke briefly with reporters at a Capitol awards ceremony staged by blind and deaf Minnesotans, while the trial continued in a courtroom about a block away. He sidestepped a question about possible appeals, just after ripping Republican Norm Coleman over the way he's conducted a lawsuit challenging Franken's post-recount lead.

"We're taking this one step at a time, but I anticipate that we're going to be happy with the court decision," Franken said.

Of Coleman's case, Franken said his opponent "has chosen to attack the Minnesota court system, to attack the elections officials and to try to erase Minnesota voters' votes. I know he's disappointed, but we've come through a fair election, a fair and very meticulous recount and we're going through now a very fair court challenge. I think it's time now that we address the people's business."

It's been four full months since voters went to the polls on Election Day and created a margin so narrow in the Senate race that it triggered an automatic recount. In his own comments to reporters on Tuesday, Coleman raised doubts about the ability of the three-judge panel to determine who won the election. "Clearly there is a question about whether this court can certify who got the most legally cast ballots," he said.

After the recount, Franken leads by 225 votes. Coleman's legal challenge is primarily focused on rejected absentee ballots.