Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Minnesota attracts president candidates

ST. PAUL - Presidential candidates are giving Minnesota more attention than ever, and the northern part of the state could become the key battleground.

ST. PAUL - Presidential candidates are giving Minnesota more attention than ever, and the northern part of the state could become the key battleground.

For years, Republican candidates "wrote Minnesota off," state GOP Chairman Ron Eibensteiner said. "They didn't think it was possible for a Republican to win in the state."

No Republican presidential candidate has won Minnesota since Richard Nixon did in 1972.

The situation has changed and Minnesota today is one of the closest-watched states because of what is expected to be a close race.

Republican President Bush and Democrat Sen. John Kerry have been frequent visitors and are expected to keep coming back. Bush has been in the state nine times since his 2000 election. Kerry has been here six times, including Friday's visit, when he began a three-day rural swing in Cloquet.


Eibensteiner said he expects Bush to visit northern Minnesota soon.

"He is going to make his presence felt in northern Minnesota," the party chairman said, adding that he asked the Bush campaign to schedule an appearance in Moorhead, Hibbing or Duluth.

"I told him it is absolutely important that when he comes to Minnesota again that he goes to northern Minnesota," he said.

Northern Minnesota traditionally has been a Democratic stronghold, but Mike Erlandson, chairman of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, said as it lost population it became more conservative and tended to vote more Republican. Now, however, a rough economy and lack of health care in the area bodes well for Kerry, Erlandson added.

The DFL chairman said he would be surprised to see Bush campaign outside the Twin Cities.

The campaigns are targeting Minnesota for two reasons, Erlandson said. First, Bush knows he has to win states he lost in 2002 to make up for expected loses in states such as Florida that he won four years ago.

Second, Republicans have done well in recent elections, including coming close to then-Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential contest.

Kerry's people have identified counties "where there is a swing vote and we think are very open to voting for John Kerry," said Jack Norris, his national field organizer.


The Bush campaign has 10 paid staff members in Minnesota, more than in most states. The Kerry campaign soon will have about the same number.

"It is indicative of how important Minnesota is for this election," said Tracey Schmitt, a Bush spokeswoman.

Schmitt said the Bush campaign has 40,000 Minnesota volunteers and is signing up more in what she calls "the most extensive and best-organized presidential campaign in Minnesota history."

Bush backers have worked in Minnesota for a year. Kerry's campaign blossomed in April, after it became apparent he would be the Democrats' nominee.

Both campaigns are establishing precinct-level organizations for person-to-person campaigning instead of relying only on television commercials.

"They (voters) believe and trust what they hear from their friends and in their neighborhoods from people who look like them," Norris said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

What To Read Next
Get Local