Minnesota Democrats excited for Obama's 2-day visit


President Barack Obama's popularity has taken some hits in recent polling, but many Minnesota DFLers couldn't be happier that he is making a two-day stop in the Twin Cities this week.

The president's visit comes with campaign season well underway as many Republican candidates are hoping to unseat incumbent Democrats in the upcoming election. Because Obama's approval rating is near a personal low, many Democrats in more vulnerable districts around the country are "avoiding" the president when he comes to town, the New York Daily News reports.

But that's not the case here. Minnesota Democrats, who lobbied to get him to make a Minnesota stop, are thrilled about his visit, the Star Tribune reports.

“There is no one in the country right now that has the ability to excite young people and communities of color,” Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin told the newspaper. “We’re very excited to have him come in and not only help our candidates but raise some money. Any appearance by the president in a state like Minnesota is a good thing.”

But Minnesota Republicans disagree. In a news release Tuesday, Republican Party officials said they wonder if Sen. Al Franken, who is seeking reelection, will "run from the increasingly unpopular president."

“Sen. Al Franken has voted with President Obama 100 percent of the time last year, so the big question is whether or not he will attend the president’s events in Minnesota this week,” Minnesota GOP Chairman Keith Downey said in the release. “With his political career on the line, Minnesotans deserve to know if Sen. Franken will try to save his job by running from the president he helped shrink the economy and kick 140,000 Minnesotans off of their insurance.”

A recent poll shows that Franken leads Republican challengers Mike McFadden by 49-38 percent and Jim Abeler by 50-39 percent.

It's not yet known if Franken will meet up with Obama during his trip. But Dayton, who is also seeking reelection, told the Star Tribune that "I would be glad to appear with President Obama. ... I would want to appear with any president of any political party."

Obama will host an invitation-only town hall meeting Thursday at Minnehaha Park and attend a fundraiser for the congressional campaign arm for House Democrats Thursday night. He'll speak on economic policy at the Lake Harriet Bandshell Friday, and also plans to meet with a Minneapolis mother, whose letter inspired him to start "day-in-the-life" visits around the country to bolster the middle class.

DFL leaders aren't the only ones eager for the president to pay a visit. Nearly three dozen people on Wednesday morning were lined up several hours early to get their hands on tickets to Obama's speech.

“I think it’s really cool, it’s an experience that none of us have ever experienced,” Washburn High School student Emily Byars-Olson, who was among the first in line to get tickets, told WCCO. “It’s kind of like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He doesn’t come here regularly, obviously. We hang out here all the time, and it’s like, really cool.”

The last time President Obama visited Minnesota was in February, when he talked about transportation issues in a speech at St. Paul’s Union Depot.

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