Clinton visits Target Center

Joel Sawyer

President Clinton gave a boost to U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone’s tight senatorial campaign on Monday by stumping for the Minnesota incumbent in front of a large partisan crowd at the Target Center.
Clinton took the stage to applause befitting a rock star and extolled the virtues of both Wellstone and Mary Rieder, a 1st Congressional District-DFL candidate locked in a tough race against Republican incumbent Gil Gutknecht.
Flanked by prominent DFL-party officials, including 5th Congressional District Rep. Martin Sabo and State Attorney General Skip Humphrey, Clinton said that by electing Wellstone and Rieder, Minnesotans would help him build a bridge to the 21st century, a theme he has repeatedly promoted during his campaign.
“I want an America where the American Dream of being able to live out your dreams is alive and well for every citizen … (and an America) where everybody has a place and a future,” Clinton said.
By electing Wellstone and Rieder, Clinton said, Minnesotans would help him accomplish those goals.
“You have to make a decision,” he said. “Do you want to build a bridge to the future or a bridge to the past?”
The president and Minnesota Democrats ripped Republicans in Congress for their “Gingrich agenda,” and Dole for his $500 million tax cut “scheme” that they say give too many tax cuts to the wealthy.
“We’re going to keep families first,” said 4th Congressional District Rep. Bruce Vento. “We’ve been there, done that, and we’re not going back,” he said of the plans Republicans have endorsed.
Clinton thanked Wellstone and Sabo for their support in passing legislation in the face of stiff Republican opposition that Clinton said has slashed the budget deficit from $290 billion to $107 billion since 1992.
“Paul Wellstone said yes,’ they said no.’ Don’t forget that at election time,” Clinton said.
Wellstone has many good qualities, Clinton said, including common sense and strong communication skills. But most important, he added, “Paul Wellstone has, in abundance, a great heart.”
Wellstone said the president’s visit was great for Minnesota. “I think it’s a great visit to energize supporters,” he said. “I think it greatly contributes to (voter) turnout, including student turnout.”
Brian Shekleton, a College of Liberal Arts junior said he thought the president’s visit would be a big boost to the Wellstone campaign.
Clinton’s appearance, Shekleton said, would hopefully change the perception of Wellstone being “so far to the left” and would convince voters that he was more moderate.
Republican ads have claimed that Wellstone is “embarrassingly liberal” and “too liberal for Bill Clinton.”
Wellstone disagreed with this claim. “(The president and I have) worked together on the issues that are important to Minnesota,” he said.
He also said he was proud to support the president’s views on education, working families, children, minimum wage and a host of other issues.
The president said education was one of the most important issues of the campaign and noted Rieder’s experience as a school teacher as a reason Minnesotans should elect her.
Although the president ostensibly spoke to support Rieder and Wellstone, at times he appeared to be campaigning for himself.
He praised his administration’s accomplishments, including the passage of a comprehensive crime bill, a strong economy and a decrease of the number of people on welfare and the unemployment rolls.