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Presidential visits: Will they help Dayton and Clark?

Former President Bill Clinton and congressional candidate Tarryl Clark greeted supporters in Blaine Sunday night.
MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
Former President Bill Clinton and congressional candidate Tarryl Clark greeted supporters in Blaine Sunday night.

Let's start with Obama. As you may have heard, the president of the United States of America came to Minneapolis Saturday to support DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton. As the Associated Press points out, he'd actually been on the road for four days, stumping for candidates; further, the AP notes, his message has fundamentally been the same on all stops: "Don't give up."

Obama explicitly addressed two things: Firstly, the typically feckless behavior of the American voter, who has a long history of voting for one party for president and then turning around two years later and giving up a lot of seats in Congress to the other party ("Defy the conventional wisdom," Obama said), and the perceived "enthusiasm gap" of voters who were excited by Obama when he was elected, but are less so now. The AP quotes St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who was in attendance: "They talk about an enthusiasm gap. Look at this room." Indeed, there were a reported 7,000-plus people in the field house with the president, and another 4,000-plus watching from the Sports Pavilion across the streets. This reporter was there, and can confirm it was an enthusiastic crowd — as demonstrated by this photoset. But then, this reporter was also at the Mall of America a few weeks ago when a boy band he had never heard of was signing autographs, and there must have been 5,000 people there. Celebritydom has its allure and may not be a mark of voter enthusiasm.

But, then, events like this also have their benefits. Firstly, it garnered a lot of press for Dayton at a moment when he has a slight but hardly decisive lead over GOP candidate Tom Emmer (the latest poll has Dayton at 41 percent and Emmer at 34 percent). The location was well-chosen, targeting college-age voters who tend to be underrepresented on surveys and also might be the sort to just ignore state elections. It gave Dayton a change to ally himself with the president who, despite the enthusiasm gap, remains popular with liberals.

There are also benefits for the president. He's been making a lot of appearances in the press lately, such as this extended interview he offered Rolling Stone magazine last month and this one in the New York Times. In the former, he offers up a list of his accomplishments; in the latter, Obama, and White House insiders, talk about the enthusiasm gap as being more of a communications gap — the White House spent so much time working on the politics, they claim, that they forgot to communicate what was going on the the American public and let others take control of the message. The interviews, and these public appearances, can easily be read as an effort to counter that. After all, when the president speaks, places republish the entire text of his comments, as did Minnesota Independent.

Outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty has stepped up his belated support for GOP candidate Tom Emmer, as reported by MPR's Tom Scheck, saying that having Dayton as governor would jeopardize Pawlenty's legacy. Whether or not that's a disincentive to vote for Dayton, of course, depends on how you feel about Pawlenty's legacy.

Obama wasn't the only president in town this weekend. There was also William Jefferson Clinton, stumping on behalf of Tarryl Clark in her quest to unseat Michele Bachmann in the 6th. Eric Roper of the Star Tribune calls Clark's expensive campaign an "uphill battle," detailing the degree to which Bachmann is entrenched in one of Minnesota's most gerrymandered districts. And Bachmann doesn't just have a foothold in her district — As Annie Baxter of Minnesota Public Radio reminds us, she's a star in the world of conservative politics.

But Bill Clinton, whatever you may think of him, is a powerful speaker and a magnetic personality, and he offered up what Hart Van Denberg of City Pages calls a "smackdown." Clinton is subdued in the accompanying video, saying he could crack jokes about the Tea Party, but that it's all background noise to the larger question of "where are we now, what are we going to do, who's more likely to do it?" Clinton summarizes Bachmann's approach as follows: "Michele Bachmann's story goes something like this: 'OK. We left you in a really big hole ... Put us back in so we can do what we did before, on steroids.'"

Clinton also made the case that Clark should be appealing to Republicans, a case summarized by MPR's Annie Baxter: "I was just thinking that if we lived in normal times, but we could bring back all the great Republicans from the past, every Republican from Theodore Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower would be voting for her in Washington."

Bachmann's response has been to say that this demonstrates that to Democrats, she's a "high-value target," according to the AP. This is a puzzling statement, as it's self-evident, but Bachmann reveals the logic when she explains that Democrats see Clark as a "very reliable vote." Many of Bachmann's ads against Clark have painted her as being in lockstep with Obama and Pelosi, and Bachmann seems to see Clinton's visit as being more evidence of this. How you feel about that is going to depend on whether or not your think that's an obvious evil.

We should mention IP candidate Tom Horner. He has slumped in the polls — he's now at 13 percent, dropping from his high of 18 percent last month — but everything else about his effort is pretty lively. First of all, as Bill Salisbury reports in the Pioneer Press, Horner picked up an endorsement from ex-Gov. Jesse Ventura, and Ventura always brings a welcome eccentricity to politics. In this instance, Ventura apparently forgot to let Horner know he was endorsing him.

Additionally, Horner unleashed some rather blunt criticism at his opponents at the latest debate, quoted by Tom Scheck of MPR. To Dayton, Horner said, "I think if they know anything about you, Senator, it's that in 35 years you've never met a promise that you won't make if it satisfies a special interest group." To Emmer, Horner said, "It's this listening problem that you have where you pretend that you know more than anybody else and then you talk to the rest of the public as if what you're saying is the gospel. That's where you get stuck by putting your stake in the ground and you won't move. That's not what we need right now."

In arts: Chris Roberts of MPR looks at local band STNNNG, whose singer compares the band to the experience of falling off a bicycle and skinning your knee: "It hurts really bad, but it kind of feels good at the same time."

In sports: If you have hopes for a publicly funded Vikings stadium, well, you're in the minority. According to Mike Kazsuba of the Strib, a recent Minnesota Poll has 75 percent of respondents opposing public funding.

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Comments (19)

Wow, Bunny.

You managed to tack on another 1,000 people, even higher than the Strib's inflated crowd estimate of 11,000.

Sorry BD, but my math tells me 7+4=11.

But then again, when faced with a wildly unpopular President and a Dem candidate clearly on the extreme, you offer up a candidate that still trails him in EVERY poll. Congratulations on that accomplishment...I didn't think it was possible.

BD. Can you add? Last time I checked 7,000 + 4,000 = 11,000.

BD, use your fingers if you have to, 4 and 7 IS 11. Are you actually reading these articles? This is the second time in as many days you've made a factually challenged comment (a previous comment mistook four middle aged women for four teenager girls).

Say Bunny?

Some people say that Dayton's dazed appearance on Saturday might have scared the kids Obama was trying to whip up, but I left with a different take.

He reminded me of a geriatric David Byrne with wierd eyes...that ain't really scary, it's just not very cool.

I also have to admit that Obama did his best rendition of "Hey, I don't stink so bad" of his tour, but I think his delivery would have been better met if he'd have been sporting a Goph hat backwards, don't you?

Wouldn't have hurt Dayton either.

Ah, I see, the 12,000 figure is in the headline, not the article. I stand corrected. Please forgive my snarky comment BD.

" ...having Dayton as governor would jeopardize Pawlenty's legacy."
-----------------------------------------------

Er, whatcha talking about, Willis?!

Pawlenty's legacy? A complete failure of state government. We are left with memories of a load of ambitious plans sacrificed on the altar of his laughable presidential ambitions and thoughtful statements and initiatives abandoned in the name of right-wing political correctness, all leavened with an indifference to solving the many solvable problems in the state.

Bring on the dishonor.

He means Pawlenty's legacy of doing nothing.

More to the point:
this election is about two things:
turning out the vote, and
attracting the Horner voters who decide not to throw away their votes.

BD is well accustomed to vitriolic snark from the "inclusive, accomodating" lefties.

And let me point out that Grow's article did not at first contain the picture of the four middle aged ladies, who might as well have been attending, apparently, at a Luther Vandross (RIP) show.

@#10 ...
-----------------------------------
???!!!
J.J now has an out-of-body experience and sees J.J sitting there in front of his computer and blabbering to himself incoherently.

Wildly unpopular president? Hardly. Nationwide, 47% (Rasmussen) still approve of the job he's doing. In Minnesota it's higher.
I recommend commenters stick to the facts instead of more vitriol and name calling.
I love Obama's recommendation that Republicans meditate. They might start finding out about their inner selves and what moves them.

#12 - But, Ginny, if they took time to think, much less examine their motivations (be afraid, be very afraid and/or mine Mine MINE) they'd be too embarrassed to remain repubs!

# 11; try and stay calm. Leftists all over the country are experiencing the same symptoms; it may just be a natural state.

Say, Ginny?

Of the 47% that "approve" of Obama, only 29% feel strongly, whereas 44% of the 53%
that disapprove, dissaprove strongly.

I'd say wildly unpopular is not far off the mark.

News Flash: Democratic (official) Candidate for Governor in VERY BLUE state of Rhode Island, Frank Caprio told the Annointed One that HE can take his endorsement and "shove it". West Virginia ("we still use coal here") Democratic Senatorial Candidate Joe Manchin has said he will not endorse Obama for President in 2012, nor will he support Harry Reid for Senate Majority Leader.

Glenn,

Obama never endorsed Caprio. Last week, Caprio said he would welcome Obama's endorsment. The White House made clear over the weekend they would not be making an endorsement in that race (most likely because of independent Lincoln Chafee), that's what has Caprio in his snit. Obama has a 56% approval in RI.

//And let me point out that Grow's article did not at first contain the picture of the four middle aged ladies, who might as well have been attending, apparently, at a Luther Vandross (RIP) show.

BD,regardless of the photo, nowhere in the article were the women described as teenagers, your still on the hook for that, and I'm still not sure your actually reading the articles.

Pawlenty's legacy?! The legacy of NO. The legacy of the creation of massive structural budget deficits. The legacy of the deterioration of Minnesota's standing in the country and world. The legacy of a partisan governor with incompetent commissioners. The legacy of the bridge collapse. The legacy of defunding transportation. The legacy of declining higher ed support and rising tuition. The legacy of Minnesota's declining place in the medical device industry. The legacy of abandonment of his state and the values that have made it unique. The legacy of no-can-do when faced with challenge. The legacy of offensive remarks about all who disagree with him. The legacy of deteriorating lakes and waterways. The legacy of wilderness exploitation by his DNR commissioner. The legacy of politicizing his approach to education. The legacy of tax cuts for the rich and higer taxes for the middle class. The legacy...........

William:

Thanks for leaving me: "The legacy.......", I will fill it in.

The legacy of low unemployment. The September numbers from the bureau of labor statistics indicate Minnesota unemployment to be 7.0%. Consider the number 7 against the backdrop of states like Michigan (13.0%) and California (12.4%). 21 of 58 California counties have unemployment of 15% or greater. If you are going to give Governor Pawlenty blame for a defective bridge that was not built on his watch, then it would only be fair to give him credit for the employment numbers. Or, perhaps you weren't interested in fairness.