Reporting Pat Kessler
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams has entered hospice care following his April 2012 cancer diagnosis.
Grams, 65, is in hospice with Stage 4 colon cancer that has spread to other parts of his body. He’s at home in his east-central Minnesota town of Crown and said his cancer is too aggressive for chemotherapy.
“I can’t thank God enough for the opportunities that I have had,” Grams told WCCO by telephone, sounding weak, but upbeat and grateful to be at home. “It’s been a battle for a couple of years.”
Grams, a Republican and a native of Princeton, Minn., served a single term in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2001. He lost his re-election bid to Democrat Mark Dayton, now Minnesota’s governor.
His voice is altered by painkillers and other medications, but Grams said he’s not fighting the cancer anymore. He said he’s getting “comfort care” in the time he has left.
“It’s really hard to say, but I know we are seeing the end, or we’re getting close,” Grams said.
Before entering politics, Grams worked for nearly a decade as lead news anchor for KMSP-TV in the Twin Cities. In 1992, he unseated the incumbent Democratic congressman, Gerry Sikorski, in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District. Grams was elected to the Senate two years later, defeating Democrat Ann Wynia in an open race.
Grams likes to say he changed: from reporting news, to making it.
He also owned and ran a construction and residential development business for a time in the 1980s. He and wife Christine Grams own three Little Falls radio stations, on which Grams regularly appeared as a co-host.
Grams attempted a political comeback in 2006, losing a bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.
“I have had a lot of excitement and a lot of disappointments,” he said. “I tried to do the best I could and tried to work hard for Minnesota.”
He recently agreed to serve as a co-chairman for the U.S. Senate bid by Republican Mike McFadden, who is seeking to challenge Democratic Sen. Al Franken next year.
Kent Kaiser, a longtime GOP activist and spokesman for the Grams family said Grams can still get around by himself and has been receiving visitors. Kaiser, who volunteered on his 1994 Senate campaign, said Grams is the most approachable and down-to-earth politician he’s met.
Several prominent Minnesota Republicans got their start working for Grams, including former state House Speaker Kurt Zellers, who was Grams’ U.S. Senate press secretary.
Kaiser said that Grams didn’t want to release further details of his illness, except to say that his cancer had metastasized.
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