Hillary Clinton visits U to campaign for Franken

Fourteen days before the election, supporters of senatorial candidate Al Franken crowded the McNamara Alumni Center and bopped to Beach Boys songs while a parade of Democratic officials, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., delivered speeches. Outside, an overflow crowd of around 300 watched the broadcast on a screen outside the venue and braced themselves against the cold. Speakers included Clinton, 3rd Congressional District candidate Ashwin Madia and Al FrankenâÄôs fourth-grade teacher, among others. The need for change, a slogan of presidential hopeful Barack ObamaâÄôs campaign, was a theme of each speech, including FrankenâÄôs. âÄúIâÄôve been all over this state,âÄù Franken said. âÄúPeople are outraged.âÄù Franken also condemned the effect of the Bush administrationâÄôs policies on middle class families, and said grassroots organizing was the only way to bring change. âÄúIf you want a senator whoâÄôll give tax breaks to the middle class, rather than millionaires, youâÄôre going to have to fight hard for the next 14 days,âÄù he said. Franken also said he supports a $5,000 credit for college. Even though the event was scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m., the center had reached capacity by 4:15 p.m. and no further entry was allowed. The overflow crowd was directed to televisions in two meeting rooms and the larger screen outside the center. The event kicked off a grassroots campaign where around 77,000 volunteers will mobilize voters for the Nov. 4 election, according to FrankenâÄôs communications director Andy Barr. âÄúWeâÄôre going to be making one and half million phone calls for our get out the vote effort and knocking on 2.8 million doors,âÄù Barr said. âÄúWhat weâÄòre looking to do in the next two weeks is, as Keith Ellison likes to say, explode the vote, for the entire DFL ticket.âÄù The venue of a university was apt because university students often are deeply concerned about political issues like rising cost of education, the war in Iraq and energy policies, Barr said. âÄúA big part of [voter mobilization] is the enthusiasm that there is for AlâÄôs message on college campuses,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôre relying on college students and the academic community and folks at the U to help us generate a lot of enthusiasm and, frankly, volunteer for the last couple weeks.âÄù Christine Cira , a marketing junior and co-chair of Students for Al, said the speech would introduce freshman and transfer students to FrankenâÄôs positions. âÄúIf itâÄôs not going to sway voters, than itâÄôs definitely going to inform voters,âÄù she said. Anthropology graduate student Rebecca Slepkov said she attended the event because sheâÄôs a Franken supporter, even though sheâÄôs unable to vote for him as a Canadian citizen. âÄúI wish I had time to do more, IâÄôm a frickinâÄô grad student,âÄù she said. âÄúI would have traded my Canadian vote for this one.âÄù Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said it was four years ago that he attended the memorial for Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash and whose position FrankenâÄôs opponent Sen. Norm Coleman now fills. âÄúThatâÄôs Paul WellstoneâÄôs seat, Norm Coleman has got it,âÄù Rybak said. âÄúGo get it.âÄù