Obama promotes Dayton with gusto

Left to right, Leah Slyvie, Charise Council, Florence Nabeta, Foulata Ocama: Obama  can still send shivers up and down the spines of his believers.
MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
Left to right, Leah Slyvie, Charise Council, Florence Nabeta, Foulata Ocama: Obama can still send shivers up and down the spines of his believers.

It was around 4:30 this afternoon and the president had just left the building and now four women were dancing to the blaring rock music.

Charise Council, Florence Nabeta, Foulata Ocama and Leah Slyvie were into it, dancing, smiling, looking at a picture on a cell phone one had take of President Obama at the big Mark Dayton rally at the dumpy old fieldhouse on the University of Minnesota campus.

The four women had arrived on campus at 9:30 this morning. They’d been directed all over the place, walking here, there, everywhere. They’d stood in a line that had snaked around the campus, between buildings, across the Washington Av. foot  bridge. They’d finally made it into the fieldhouse about 12:30 and then, they’d stood, waiting some more.

They’d listened to the speeches of  several pols, including Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. (Franken, it should be noted, is getting better and better at these stump speeches. He yells, he makes people laugh and at the same time fires ‘em up. Which was the point of this rally.)

President Obama finally arrived at around 3:30, some six hours after the women had arrived on campus.

Was it worth the wait?

“Oh my, yes,’’ said Nabeta.

And Ocama and Slyvie shook their heads in enthusiastic agreement.

Council grabbed my arm.

“Worth it?’’ she asked. “Look at this. (She was holding up her cell phone, with a blurry picture of the president.) “How many people have a picture like this?’’

A long wait
Council did agree that there had been times when the wait had seemed painfully long.

“But it’s like going to church on Sunday morning,’’ she said. “Sometimes you’re there and you’re almost falling asleep and you wonder, ‘Maybe I should have stayed home.’ And then the choir starts singing and you can just feel it. You  say, ‘Oh, thank God I’m here.’’’

Yes, the president can still send shivers up and down the spines of his believers.

The University announced that there were 11,000 of those believers at three different locations. There were 6,500 who saw him in the flesh in the fieldhouse. There were a few thousand more people in the women’s sports pavilion watching a piped-in president and a few thousand more in the football stadium watching the rally on the Jumbotron.

A digression here about Gopher football: Some young men who live near campus came up with a good way to make a few bucks on the president’s visit. They created a t-shirt that read on the front: “Obama for Coach.’’ On the back it read: “Better than Brewster.’’

They must have sold — at $15 a pop — dozens of the shirts because they could be seen everywhere at this rally.

The president was introduced by the man who is expected to be the big beneficiary of the rally. Dayton, as most know by now, isn’t an orator.

“You don’t have to be a great speaker to do the right things,’’ said Ocama.

Anyway, he got through his portion of the program pretty well.  He even set off some loud cheers of approval when he spoke of how the Republican Party and its support groups will spend more than $1 million in negative television ads “trying to destroy my reputation and distort my record’’ in these final days of the campaign.

“They may have a million dollars,’’ he said, “but they don’t have you.’’

He pointed to the crowd. And the people responded with cheers and by waving their Dayton for governor signs. 

The president has been going around the country trying to shore up Democratic hopes. Much of his speech today was aimed at the national agenda and was filled with lines he’s used from coast to coast.

President Obama, in Minnesota to support Mark Dayton: “You don’t have to be a great speaker to do the right things."
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
President Obama, in Minnesota to support Mark Dayton.

“I don’t re-argue the past,’’ said Obama, after talking about the economic “mess’’ he’d inherited from former President George W. Bush. “I just don’t want to re-live it.’’

He talked about how his victory and inauguration of 2008 had been such a joyful rush for so many.

“Beyonce was singing, Bono, too,’’ he said, smiling. “It was fun.’’

But he recalled that even in the midst of the celebration of ’08 he’d reminded people that change would be hard.

“Power concedes nothing without a fight,’’ he said. The fight for change, he said, has just begun.

So there was much of the standard stump stuff in the president’s speech.

But he also never forgot that he was in Minnesota to promote Dayton. He did so with gusto.

“I served with Mark in the U.S. Senate,’’ Obama said. “I know the man. I know the kind of leader he will be.’’

Obama even showed some sophistication about the state’s budget woes and the positions of Dayton’s two opponents, noting that Dayton would balance the budget without hurting the middle class and without taking money away from public education.

Obama had the crowd cheering for Dayton like he’s never been cheered for before.

At one point, Obama seemed touched by the response of the crowd. 

‘Yes you can’
Obama had challenged the crowd to “defy the conventional wisdom’’ by electing Dayton and Democratic congressional candidates. 

“It was the same way in 2008.  They said you can’t elect a skinny guy with a funny name to be president of the United States and you said, ‘Yes we can,’’’ Obama said.

With that, the crowd started chanting “Yes we can! Yes we can!’’

That’s when the President smiled and seemed to soak it up.

It should be noted that this wasn’t the first huge rally of the year in Minnesota.

Months ago, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin attracted a crowd estimated to be upwards of 10,000 people to the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The crowds were as different as the messages they heard, starting with the fact that today’s crowd was far more diverse and, on average, considerably younger. 

Even the invocations were different. At the Bachmann-Palin rally there had been a prayer filled with praise of the Lord and liberty.

The invocation today was offered by Peg Chemberlin, the executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches. The prayer was all about the “diversity’’ of people and religions in the country.

The special sections set aside for supporters were different, too. At the Palin-Bachmann event, many of the special guests were wearing suits and dresses.

Today’s special section was filled with guys wearing union shirts and young people wearing blue jeans.

Parts of the special sections, by the way, weren’t really so special in the fieldhouse. The speaker system seemed to have dead zones, which made it difficult for some to hear, though that didn’t seem to dampen enthusiasm. The thousands outside the special areas had no difficulty hearing.

Not all that came to this event were either fans of the president or Dayton.

Outside the fieldhouse there was a group of young Tom Emmer supporters carrying signs that had such messages as: “Want a Job When You Graduate? Vote Emmer.’’

And there was at least one Tea Party fellow riding around on a bicycle that had a little yellow flag with the message: “Don’t tread on me.’’

We talked, briefly, after the event.

“Did you hear the president?’’ I asked.

“I wouldn’t go in if it was free,’’ he said.

“It was,’’ I said.

“I wouldn’t go in to hear him if they paid me,’’ he said.

“Can I get your name?” I asked.

“I wouldn’t give you my name,’’ he said, “but here, read this.’’

He reached into a pocket of his cargo pants that was filled with rumpled literature.

“I’ll read it if you give me your name,’’ I said.

“OK then,’’ he said, at which point he got on his bike and rode away.

But there were far more people like the four dancing women than the Tea Party fellow. Even after a day of long lines and long waits, they came out of the fieldhouse talking excitedly.

It remains to be seen if that excitement lasts until Nov. 2.

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Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by B Maginnis on 10/23/2010 - 08:38 pm.

    Why does Dayton seem so ill at ease?

    And why do the thoughts of teen aged girls form the focus of this piece?

    Very odd, indeed.

  2. Submitted by Stephan Flister on 10/23/2010 - 09:07 pm.

    “It remains to be seen if that excitement lasts ….’

    Yes it can!

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/23/2010 - 09:10 pm.

    “I don’t re-argue the past,’’ said Obama.

    Who then went on to mention the past about a dozen more times. Ah yes. The dems can always rely on the young and the clueless.

  4. Submitted by Allison Sandve on 10/23/2010 - 10:09 pm.

    Happy and proud to have volunteered for and voted for President Obama in 2008. Happy and proud to volunteer for and be voting for Tom Horner for governor in 2010.

  5. Submitted by Glenn Mesaros on 10/24/2010 - 02:24 am.

    Think of the irony that Obama does not have a clue about the following facts and crisis:

    Think of the irony of the fact that the New York Federal Reserve is joining Pimpco, BlackRock, MetLife, etc., in demanding that Bank of America repurchase the fraudulent loans issued by Countrywide, which the Federal Reserve itself encouraged the Bank of America to take over as part of its campaign to save the system by creating the very bubble of which they now complain.

    Think of the irony of has-been Chris Dodd, co-author of the fraudulent Financial Reform Bill with Barney Frank, who got his house from Countrywide.

    Think of the irony of the Federal Reserve joining this effort because many of the fraudulent transactions involved were executed by Bear Stearns and AIG, which the Federal Reserve took over to save the very same toxic assets.

    Think of the irony involved in the fact that the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which runs Fannie and Freddie, wants to get the Bank of America to repurchase loans to Fannie and Freddie. And at the same time, the FHFA just issued a report saying that Fannie and Freddie, which have already received $148 billion in bailouts, may have to be bailed out again to the tune of at least $363 billion.

    You have a clueless President Pothole.

  6. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/24/2010 - 07:08 am.

    “I don’t re-argue the past” just means there is nothing to argue about. NO argument is sufficient to justify how bad it was and how much we’re now suffering the results of it.

    Argument is unnecessary because it’s clear to anyone with at least two working synapses what a disaster the years of Bushco, nationally, and King Timmy, locally. What the GOP falsely foisted on an unsuspecting public has been completely disastrous for all but the very rich.

    Going on to spell out what that past has been in order to make it clear what you’re doing to correct it’s hubris and it’s massive errors is not re-arguing it, it’s just reminding people of the truth of what has been and spelling the choice between moving toward recovery and moving back to an exponentially compounding disaster.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/24/2010 - 09:16 am.

    //And why do the thoughts of teen aged girls form the focus of this piece?

    Teenage girls? They look like middle aged women to me? Maginnis, you’r not a tea partyer by any chance who wouldn’t read an article about Obama if we paid you?

  8. Submitted by David Willard on 10/24/2010 - 10:25 am.

    Charismatic tele-prompter reading, community-organizing rock stars do not a good President make.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/24/2010 - 10:40 am.

    It’s pretty easy to understand why Mr. Tester would prefer that we not dwell on the past, since “conservatives” are largely responsible for the first 1.3 trillion dollars of the national debt and most of the jobs that have been shipped overseas. Did I mention foreclosures? Several thousand young Americans dead in undeclared wars against people who posed no threat and did us no harm? Massive fraud in the financial industry, deregulated at the behest of “conservatives?” Indeed, dwelling on the recent past would require a much longer list of mistakes.

    Just for the record, I’m neither young nor clueless.

  10. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/24/2010 - 11:45 am.

    I was in attendance, and what I saw was a crowd largely consisting of UofM students excited to see the President.

    Indeed, it occurred to me that the venue was carefully chosen to ensure a good turn-out…what else is a college kid going to do when the Pres. visits the campus but attend?

    As I waited in line, conversations were restricted to Obama and where the parties were last night.

    I heard precious little regarding Dayton.

    And his short introductory speech illustrated why. Dayton is clearly uncomfortable around people, and it took all the strength modern chemistry offers to maintain his composure.

    Just look at him.

    Obama did his thing; the college crowd was indeed pumped up. But once he was on his way back to DC, those kids are left with the image of Mark Dayton, standing there with the ever present look of the hopelessly lost.

    Doug opines “It remains to be seen if that excitement lasts until Nov. 2.”…I’d suggest Team Dayton would be blessed if it lasted until dinner time.

  11. Submitted by Susan Lesch on 10/24/2010 - 02:04 pm.

    Mr. Grow thanks a bunch for this story. I had seen a video at StarTribune.com that was edited down without saying so. Judging by the photo of the President they ran before this event, and their video of the event, I am afraid that the Star Tribune is of no use to me.

  12. Submitted by Steve Marchese on 10/24/2010 - 03:10 pm.

    I was there and, despite the long lines and the fact that my sons and I ended up in the overflow Sports Pavilion, it was worth it. The crowd was diverse in many different ways — age, race, ethnicity, you name it. The President offered a sharp, coherent vision for why this country does not need to go back to the policies that took us down this sad economic road. For all the handwaving of the Republicans these days, the fact is they offer nothing more than a warmed over version of what they have been peddling for the last 30 years.

    Whether Dayton will benefit is unclear. No, I don’t think people are as fired up as they were in 2008. But that was a unique time. I do think most people understand what is at stake — either moving forward or continuing the slide to mediocrity that is the signal hallmark of the Pawlenty era.

  13. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 10/24/2010 - 06:02 pm.

    Subsidized students, taught by subsidized faculty, in a subsidized building, on a subsidized campus, who are cheering for the subsidies and bail-outs to continue from two great “tax and spend” politician, Mr. Obama and Mr. Dayton.

    I was wondering, how many in that field house were receiving some government handout?

  14. Submitted by Steve Rose on 10/24/2010 - 06:17 pm.


    Great anecdotal stuff, the four African-American women and the Tea Party fellow on the bicycle.

    The photo at the top tells the whole story. Dayton, standing by – maintaining a tenuous grip, while Obama preaches to the choir and some university students who wanted to say that they were there. The whole thing looks like it sent some votes in the direction of Tom Horner.

  15. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 10/24/2010 - 11:33 pm.

    It really saddens and depresses me to read comments like #13. I’m not too much different frommany others of my generation and succeeding generations who went to a “state subsidized school”, (in my case a land grand institution in Michigan), and received various subsidies to assist them in obtaining their degrees. Many people used to get National Defense loans and grants, I suppose under the fiction, used for the interstate highway systems, that an educated public would be a bulwark against communism. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. I graduated from college, got an advanced degree and paid back my small (by today’s standards) student loan. I have been a taxpayer for quite few years now, and have seen my taxes squandered far more on subsidizing foreign wars and wasteful businesses, wasteful settlements in the west and southwest and the south and a prison system that eclipses the former Soviet Union and Communist China with more people in prison by far than any other nation. The kids in the auditorium are working for a better future for themselves and future generations. Most of them are incurring huge debts, if they can afford to be at the U at all. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d see somebody bash a politician for spending taxes on public education.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/25/2010 - 08:26 am.

    Ron, public “Subsidies” are the backbone of any civilized nation. Want to live in a place with no public subsidies? Your utopia lies on the east coast of Africa, it’s called Somalia.

  17. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 10/25/2010 - 12:22 pm.


    So how much did it take for Mr. Obama to buy your vote?

  18. Submitted by dan buechler on 10/25/2010 - 05:07 pm.

    Ron G. you have a large tax exemption, probably much larger than paul will have.

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