They came, they spoke, we caucus

by Ahnalese Rushmann

Today, Minnesotans will get a chance to caucus at their local precincts as part of Super Tuesday – when 24 states across the country hold caucuses or primaries.

As the candidates’ race for party nominations intensifies, it’s not entirely surprising that various Twin Cities locations have not only been stops along several campaign trails, but the destinations of some notable supporters as well.

University of Minnesota-Morris political science professor Paula O’Loughlin said being able to fill a venue is a factor in where a candidate holds an event.

“You want to look like there’s people busting to get in so you always want to have a smaller space than have empty seats,” she said, but sometimes, candidates just have to take what they can get with what’s available.

Janet Huckabee

Who Wife of former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

When Monday, Jan. 28

Where Northwestern College in Roseville and “Hope for the City,” an anti-poverty group in St. Louis Park, The Pioneer Press reported.

What The Huckabees are both from Hope, Ark., which is also the hometown of former President Bill Clinton. Huckabee said her 11 years as the state’s first lady “give her more experience than anyone else on either side,” the Star Tribune reported.

Why O’Loughlin said much of Huckabee’s strength is popularity with younger voters, evangelicals and conservative Republicans. “Northwestern College fills all of those,” she said.

John Edwards

Who Former Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator from North Carolina

When Tuesday, Jan. 29

Where Carpenters Union Hall, St. Paul

What St. Paul turned out to be Edwards’ last stop on the campaign trail as he ended his presidential efforts the next day. As of press time Monday night, Edwards hadn’t endorsed another candidate.

Why Edwards’ locale made a lot of sense, O’Loughlin said. “If you think about who was the base of Edwards’ support, a lot of it was unions,” she said.

Tom Daschle

Who Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader from South Dakota

When Tuesday, Jan. 29

Where Coffman Union and Macalester College in St. Paul.

What Daschle, an Obama supporter, spoke to nearly 70 people at Coffman. “I feel so strongly that this country right now couldn’t more be on the wrong track,” he said, adding that Obama discusses issues with students.

Why O’Loughlin said Daschle is a “fairly progressive guy from the Midwest,” who has the potential to mobilize regional voters for Obama.

Barack Obama

Who Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator from Illinois

When Saturday, Feb. 2

Where Target Center, Minneapolis (University spokesman Dan Wolter said the Obama campaign inquired about using Williams Arena for the event, but couldn’t because of a scheduling conflict).

What Obama said he’s not worried about critics who have called him a “hope-monger” and inexperienced. People realize the biggest gamble would be to leave politics to “the same old folks” doing “the same old thing,” he said. Actors Dulé Hill, Scarlett Johansson and Kal Penn also visited campus in support of Obama.

Why Celebrity endorsements won’t necessarily persuade people but can attract and energize an audience, O’Loughlin said. “A celebrity gets you in the room,” she said, noting the importance of Obama nods by several members of the Kennedy family.

Mitt Romney

Who Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor

When Saturday, Feb. 2

Where Frauenshuh Inc., Edina

What Romney made a brief campaign appearance at a packed office building in the west suburb, where he said economic issues are his strength. Romney said the economy was not a strong suit of Sen. John McCain, a candidate who would “pull our party sharply to the left.”

Why O’Loughlin said it was significant that Romney put in the time to come to the state and show Minnesotans are important to him. “John McCain was not here,” she said of one of Romney’s top rivals. “Nor was Mike Huckabee, just his wife.”

Hillary Clinton

Who Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Senator from New York and former first lady

When Sunday, Feb. 3

Where Auguburg College’s Melby Gymnasium, Minneapolis (Wolter said Clinton’s campaign had also looked at a couple of on-campus sites, including Williams Arena).

What Clinton talked to a crowd of nearly 4,000, which broke into “Hillary” chants after she said every person should be part of an affordable, universal health-care system. Clinton said there’s something “morally wrong and economically stupid” with the current health care system.

Why “If Hillary could’ve gotten Northrop Auditorium yesterday, she would’ve,” O’Loughlin said, adding she guessed Clinton and Obama will come to the University campus before the General Election.

Ron Paul

Who Republican presidential nominee candidate and Texas Congressman

When Monday, Feb. 4

Where Northrop Auditorium

What Thousands of fans packed into Northrop Auditorium to hear the self-proclaimed “constitutionalist.” Paul said the Constitution doesn’t give us the authority to police the world. Paul, the only candidate to appear on the University campus, said less foreign military presence would save the “flat-out broke” United States a lot of money that could be used to address domestic issues.

Why O’Loughlin said being able to provide a visual of excited young people is valuable. “He’s much more of an Internet candidate, much more than Howard Dean was a few years ago,” she added.