Updated: 10/20/2012 7:20 PM KSTP.com By: Mark Saxenmeyer
The polls may show President Obama leading in Minnesota, but that's not stopping big names in his campaign from visiting the Twin Cities.
Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, made a public appearance in Minneapolis Saturday; it comes at a time when the latest Survey USA poll numbers show 50 percent of Minnesotans support Obama and 40 percent are behind his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Six percent remain undecided. and four percent back another candidate.
The Minnesota GOP feels the Biden visit is proof that Minnesota is still in the mix for them, come election day.
Dr. Biden made her appearance at the Minneapolis location of "Organizing for America," a campaign office for Obama. "President Obama and my husband are moving this country forward," Biden said to rousing cheers.
"Moving forward" was clearly her message. She used the words nearly a dozen times, and it resonated in every theme she discussed.
In connection with education: "They've doubled the funding for pell grants," she said of the Obama/Biden ticket.
Regarding the military: "We're going to responsibly end the war in Afghanistan by 2014."
Referring to women's rights: "We want to make sure that our daughters and our granddaughters don't have to go back and re-fight those fights that we fought decades ago."
And as for the economy: "We have seen 31 straight months of job growth."
But Minnesota GOP leaders beg to differ. According to Kelly Fenton, the deputy chair of the state republican party, "The economy is not going in the direction of an upwards swing. It's actually declining. I mean, more people are living in poverty and the average household income is declining. That is not moving forward. That is moving backwards."
Following a private fundraiser last night, the Minneapolis meet-and-greet with the Second Lady was designed to galvanize about 150 get-out-the-vote volunteers. But at this stage of the campaign, will it make any difference? Golden Valley resident and Obama grass roots organizer Sara Monica said simply, "Can't hurt. Might help."
Jill Biden has visited Minnesota twice this fall and Saturday's stop was arranged just one week ago. Minnesota republicans say it's a sign that the Obama/Biden ticket is potentially in trouble here--that it doesn't have the grass roots enthusiasm and support that it did four years ago.
According to Fenton, "Clearly what this tells me is that Minnesota is not as safe as they thought it was and so they're having to come in here to try to encourage people to go out and push voters out to the polls."
Joe Blodgett, who leads Minnesota's Obama re-election campaign, said, "Look, Minnesota is always a state where we know we have to work hard. Elections are always close and we take nothing for granted."
And with just 17 days left in the campaign, Jill Biden couldn't stress it enough: "You know, we have to just keep moving forward," she said.
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org