DFL U.S. Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar brought some big political guns to the University on Thursday.
Former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., stumped for Klobuchar, drawing a crowd of about 750 to the Coffman Union Great Hall.
Gore jokingly thanked the crowd for a forced standing ovation in the chairless auditorium, which drew applause and laughter.
He also joked about himself and his failed presidential bid, while hyping up Klobuchar and speaking about policy change he said is needed in Washington, D.C.
D.C. has been enthralled by special interests and Klobuchar is right in pointing this out, Gore said.
Klobuchar “is Minnesotan through and through,” Gore said.
He said politicians ought to be talking about making college and health care affordable and accessible. As a staunch activist against global warming, Gore also said it’s important to support E85 production – something that will help Minnesota farmers.
“I particularly appreciate and commend what Amy has said about the need for this country to provide leadership in the fight against global warming,” Gore said.
This election is one of the most important in history because there is an accumulation of power in the executive branch, he said.
The audience laughed when Gore compared the situation to 225 years ago when the founding fathers had a bitter experience with “King George.”
In response, Gore said, the founders created a system of checks and balances to stop the excessive power, but Congress hasn’t done their job recently.
“They have not exercised their responsibilities,” Gore said.
Klobuchar said she is going to be a moral compass for Congress because the body only follows one direction, “W, as in George W. Bush.”
She said she would be a North Star that people follow when they lose their compass.
“I won’t be following the Lone Star, I’ll be following the North Star,” Klobuchar said.
She said it is getting more expensive to attend college and it is not going to change with Bush and the Republicans in control.
Klobuchar mocked Kennedy’s plans for office, comparing them to a conversation she overheard at the State Fair.
“I heard some college kids talking about having too much foam in their beer and I finally looked at (Kennedy) at our debate and said, ‘You know what Congressman, that’s your plan, it’s all foam and no beer,’ ” Klobuchar said.
Tyler Sunderman, College Republicans state chairman, said tuition went up more than anyone would have liked, but the rates have leveled off to 4 percent in public universities – comparable to other schools in the Big Ten.
Democrats are using scare tactics to political advantage “and talking about how the sky is falling,” Sunderman said. “We don’t really see that. I think it’s a sign of the tactics they’re taking to gain support this year.”
Later at the event, Klobuchar highlighted Minnesota’s leadership in renewable energy efforts, referencing wind farms in southern Minnesota.
Dorgan said timing is everything in politics and the time is right for change.
“The timing is right for a new messenger that says we can do better,” he said.
He said Klobuchar is the right candidate to bring this message to Minnesotans.
“My dad said voting is a lot like driving a car. If you want to go backward, you put that transmission in R. If you want to go forward, you select D,” said Dorgan to loud applause.
Klobuchar’s spokesman Bob Hume said the campaign chose to rally at the University because Klobuchar knows students play a pivotal role in elections.
She is still campaigning hard because she isn’t taking anything for granted, he said, though recent polls have shown her with a solid lead. Klobuchar has been to all 87 counties in Minnesota and is beginning a five day tour of 25 cities, Hume said.
“Amy Klobuchar is the type of leader Minnesota needs,” Hume said.
Todd Kortemeier, a journalism junior, played the mellophone at the event in the maroon-and-gold clad band. The band, which is not part of the University marching band, played the Minnesota Rouser before and after the event.
Kortemeier said he will support Klobuchar this election.
Faraaz Mohammed, a first-year entrepreneurial management and marketing student, said he was “surprised (the event) wasn’t more publicized.”
Mohammed said each speaker was inspiring in their own way. Gore was able to talk about change while being simultaneously self-deprecating and inspirational.
Dominick Grande, a first-year entrepreneurial management and political science student, said there was “a lot of good propaganda” in the event.
He said that view doesn’t mean he’s a Republican; he’s more of a Libertarian, if anything.
Grande said he goes to events like these to observe and understand them.
The Minnesota Rouser and the banner with the University “M” in Klobuchar’s first name were nice touches, he said.