Rybak will have large role in 2012 presidential race

Nick Sudheimer

Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak will be playing an integral role in the upcoming 2012 presidential race.

As one of the five vice chairs for the Democratic National Committee, Rybak’s duties will include making national media appearances, giving speeches to state party groups, responding to Republican debates, mobilizing volunteers and fundraising.

After being nominated to the council on September 2 of this year, Rybak, who made an appearance on Virginia television last week to defend an infrastructure bill backed by President Obama, officially begins his work as a vice chair today by speaking at the opening of the Obama campaign’s first office in Minnesota.  Tomorrow he will speak to Minneapolis activists before he heads to Iowa later this month. 

Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC, said in an interview with the Star Tribune, that the party will use Rybak, “in any way that we can put him out there.  He’s a very effective speaker. He’s someone who’s persuasive and he’s a hard worker.”

The presidential campaign will likely be a tough road for Obama who continues to struggle with a stubborn economy and has seen low approval ratings in key swing states, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll.  Creating excitement in the party base and among young voters will be key for a successful Obama campaign, according to a report from the Pew Research Center.  “It’s going to be a tough race, but I believe he [Obama] will win,” Rybak told the Star Tribune.

For Rybak, presidential campaigns are familiar territory.  Rybak was active in Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign and was one of the first supporters of Obama, defending the Illinois senator before he officially declared his candidacy. 

Rybak said that being a vice chair should not impact his ability effectively lead the city of Minneapolis.  Rybak said that he can handle the added duties because he has been in an “almost perpetual state of campaigning on the side. Besides the presidential campaigns, Rybak has successfully campaigned for Mayor thrice, in 2001, 2005, and 2009.  He also ran for governor in 2010.

His role for the DNC will mean more travel, he told the Star Tribune, but “this isn’t a dramatic new body of work. This is what I’ve been doing.”