Obama’s 2012 campaign kicks off on campus

Organizing for America opened its first Minnesota office Monday.

Representative Keith Ellison speaks Monday at the at the opening of the Barack Obama Campaign Office.

Representative Keith Ellison speaks Monday at the at the opening of the Barack Obama Campaign Office.

by Matt Herbert

While Republican candidates are still fighting for their partyâÄôs nomination in the 2012 presidential election, President Barack ObamaâÄôs campaign for re-election has turned its attention to the Twin Cities.

ObamaâÄôs campaign, Organizing for America, launched its first Minnesota office Monday. After a tough year in office and sinking approval ratings, the campaign is looking to recapture the student vote that helped elect him in 2008.

Among the more than 100 supporters who showed up at the campaign office were local, state and national politicians.

âÄúIâÄôm still fired up and ready to go,âÄù Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said at the office, just blocks away from the University of Minnesota campus. 

But just 10 percent or so of the supporters were students.

âÄúSupport has declined sharply among young Americans,âÄù said Larry Jacobs, professor at the Humphrey School of PublicAffairs. âÄúHowever, [students have] more support for the president than any other age group.âÄù

Jacobs said many factors have contributed to ObamaâÄôs decreases in approval ratings.

âÄúThe economy has tanked and it has really hurt young people,âÄù Jacobs said. âÄúCongressional approval is at an all time low, and members of Congress and the president are facing a big backlash.âÄù

Obama supporter and University student Laura Hoffman said Obama hasnâÄôt delivered on all of his promises.

âÄúItâÄôs discouraging sometimes because last election, he talked a big talk and didnâÄôt carry through on everything,âÄù Hoffman said. She said she wanted U.S. troops to leave the Middle East and to see the Guantanamo Bay  prison closed.

Kristin Sosanie, spokeswoman for Organizing for America-Minnesota, said there is already a large amount of support in the state.

âÄúWe already have a lot of volunteers and supporters interested in helping out,âÄù Sosanie said.

Obama carried Minnesota and its 10 electoral votes in the 2008 election. No Republican nominee has won Minnesota in a presidential election since Richard Nixon in 1972.

âÄúPresident Obama has done a lot for young people, from allowing 12 million kids to stay on their parentâÄôs health insurance until theyâÄôre 26, to the new âÄòPay as You EarnâÄô program to help students with student loan debt.âÄù

Nicholas Amell of the College Republicans at the University of Minnesota had no problem recounting the failures of ObamaâÄôs first term.

âÄúThe fact that the economy has not improved and if [Obama] goes back on some of his platforms, like Obamacare, it may turn many young voters off,âÄù Amell said, adding that the infighting in Washington may turn away young voters altogether.

Sosanie said that, despite the hard times, she hasnâÄôt seen a lack of enthusiasm for the campaign.

âÄúA lot of students are excited and supportive of the president,âÄù Sosanie said. âÄúMany younger voters appreciate the active work of the president to create a stronger economy and more jobs for the future.âÄù

Minnesota House of Representatives candidate Mike Griffin said students were crucial in the last election.

âÄúThe legacy of ObamaâÄôs grassroots campaign in 2008 and what he did helped inspire students,âÄù Griffin said. âÄúStudents played a pivotal role in the election cycle, and their input is important in all elections.âÄù


-The Associated Press contributed to this report.