Barack Obama Visit – Live Blog

Devin Henry

Update: 4:40pm: “If everybody who fought for change in 2008 votes in 2010, Mark will win this election,” President Barack Obama said. “In 2008, you said, ‘Yes we can.’ In 2010, you have to say, ‘Yes we can.’ “

That line led to the first chants of then-candidate Obama’s famous 2008 rallying cry, this time for DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton.

It was pretty standard stump speech material from Obama, who repeated lines from other speeches he’s delivered frequently on the campaign trail this year. Through much of his half-hour speech, he looked to tap into the force of the voting bloc that help get him elected two years ago.

Obama looked to define the race as one between the past (Republicans) and the future (Democrats), taking aim at Republican positions that he said lead to the economic disaster he’s tried to fix through the first half of his term.

“I don’t want to re-argue the past,” he said. “I don’t want to relive the past.”

He said Congressional Republicans (whom many project to win back control of the House of Representatives this November) were “betting on amnesia” this election year.

Obama also touted Mark Dayton as a candidate. “He’s been fighting for the people of the state his whole career,” Obama said. The two served together in Congress from 2005 to early 2007.

University officials say 11,000 people attended the speech, between the Field House and the overflow seating area at the Sports Pavilion. Before the event, University President Robert Bruininks and his wife Dr. Susan Hagstrum met privately with Obama. Neither attended the decidedly-political event.

Thanks for following along today. Look for a recap of the president’s visit on mndaily.com this afternoon, and pick up a special issue of the Daily on Monday.

-Devin Henry

Update: 3:25pm: Senior Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke, saying Republicans are “all foam and no beer,” and, per Twitter, more than 8,500 people have come to either the Field House or the Sports Pavilion. “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” is playing, and it looks like the traveling White House press have arrived. That always means the President is close …

Update: 3:05pm:Sen. Al Franken (“the poster boy for close elections,” he said) praised recently-passed health care reform and the stimulus package to rally the crowd as Obama heads toward Dinkytown.

When Obama took over, Franken said, the economy was on the edge of a cliff, with rocks and alligators below. Bush jumped out, he said, and Obama jumped in and took over.

Acoustics are pretty bad in here, so I’m paraphrasing and using Twitter to crowd-source. During Obama’s speech, this blog will be silent, but look for an update after.

Update: 2:55pm: The Field House is full, according to the U. Overflow seating is going in the Sports Pavilion.

Update: 2:50pm:As Rebecca Otto leads off speeches from the state’s DFL officials, we get word Air Force One has landed. Look for a photo soon, and avoid Interstate 35W North for a while so the motorcade can come through.

Update: 2:40pm: If the precincts around the U see the kind of voter turnout they did in 2008, the DFL will have to be very pleased.

In 2008, with a presidential election and an exciting Democrat at the top of the ticket, nearly 18,000 voted in the Minnesota House 59B district, which includes the University. Obama won 79 percent of the vote in the district, Al Franken won 65 percent, Keith Ellison 75 percent and state Rep. Phyllis Kahn 69 percent.

Two years earlier, with U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, the district saw nearly 12,000 voters. The Democrats won with similar percentages as 2008.

As the polls show, the margin between the candidates in this gubernatorial race are slim. An extra couple of thousand votes either way could matter a lot. A visit from Obama, no doubt, will rally the base around the U.

The anthem has been sung and the program has begun. The U says it’ll stream the President’s address on the big screen at TCF Bank Stadium if you stuck around after the Gophers’ loss.

Update: 1:55pm:The U is the last stop on a west coast swing for Obama, who has been rallying for candidates in California, Nevada and Washington state this week.

But when it comes to garnering votes for the candidates he’s plugging, is he really doing that great of a job?

A Gallup poll from earlier this month shows that 39 percent of independent voters said an Obama endorsement actually lessens their likelihood to vote for a candidate, far more than the 12 percent who said they’re more likely to vote for them. Bill Clinton, in town tomorrow for Tarryl Clark, has slightly better numbers, 21 percent for and 23 percent against.

A Rasmussen poll released yesterday shows Minnesota’s race to be virtually deadlocked, with DFLer Mark Dayton holding a three-point lead over Republican Tom Emmer. Obama’s rally is part of a Get Out The Vote effort on behalf of the Democrats, who are banking, as usual, on a large student turnout on Nov. 2.

We’ll look at voter turnout next.

Photo courtesy: Matt Cummins

Update: 1:15pm: As UNEWS reports, the line to get into the rally does, in fact, stretch to the Washington Ave. Bridge. If you’re familiar with the U’s campus, you’ll recognize this as the area in front of the new science classroom building.

1:05pm: Hello from the University Field House. Threats of rain drove this Barack Obama rally inside, but the sun shone as the lines of potential rally-goers wrapped around the Rec Center, through Northrop Mall, and onto the Washington Ave. Bridge.

But don’t worry. If you can’t get in, follow along here with us.

We’ll be updating this blog live throughout the day, before, during and after the president’s address, scheduled for around 3 p.m. We’ve got photographers at the airport waiting for Air Force One, reporters out covering the other candidates and any protests around campus, and, of course, at the rally itself. Stay tuned.