Election Notebook: Minnesota Draws Presidential Campaign Interest

Hurricane Sandy has blown presidential campaigns into Minnesota.

As a storm forced President Barack Obama, challenger Mitt Romney and others to cancel East Coast campaign stops, their campaigns looked toward what some see as a newly competitive Minnesota.

Former President Bill Clinton plans Minnesota campaign stops today and rumors persisted Monday that Republican Romney or his running mate, Paul Ryan, would be in Minnesota this week. Republican officials said they could not confirm a GOP candidate visit.

Clinton is to campaign for Obama and other Democrats in Minneapolis and Duluth.

President Barack Obama’s campaign indicated that Clinton will appear a week before Election Day at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus’ McNamara Alumni Center. Doors are to open at 9:30 a.m., with the rally expected at 10:30 a.m.

He is to appear in the Kirby Student Center at the University of Duluth. Doors open at 12:30 p.m., it remained unclear when the event would begin.

Details of the visit remained sketchy Monday evening.

The Obama campaign site indicated that people wanting to attend the Duluth rally could fill out a form at http://tinyurl.com/clintonduluth. The Minneapolis site is http://tinyurl.com/MplsClinton.

Obama’s campaign brushed aside talk that the Minnesota race is tightening when the Democratic incumbent had expected to be holding a larger lead.

A Star Tribune poll released during the weekend showed Obama’s Minnesota lead falling to 3 percentage points after observers saying the president looked to have a solid lead. The 3 points is within the poll’s margin of error.

On the other hand, a St. Cloud State University poll shows Obama holds a comfortable 13-point lead among all Minnesotans and remains 8 points ahead among those most likely to vote.

The candidates have spent most of their time in a handful of states expected to be close. But with Sandy affecting a couple of those states, campaigns turned some of their attention to other potentially tight states.

Two Minnesota neighbors, Iowa and Wisconsin, are among those swing states and have attracted lots of campaign attention. Clinton plans to visit both of those states this week, along with Colorado, Ohio, Virginia and New Hampshire.

On Monday night, Clinton scheduled a rally for U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp in Fargo, N.D.

“President Clinton’s trip will include both a mix of battleground states, where he will continue to lay out the choice for the American people in this election, and states with strong Democratic bases, where he will fire up supporters and urge them to help get out the vote for President Obama,” the Obama campaign reported.

Polls disagree in 8th

Polls in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District point out one fact: The race is close.

A Public Policy Polling survey shows U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack trails Democratic challenger Rick Nolan 48 percent to 44 percent. Cravaack’s campaign released an internal poll indicating he leads 50-40.

Each poll was criticized by the campaign it showed to be trailing.

The campaign in the district that stretches from the extreme northern Twin Cities suburbs to northeast and north-central Minnesota is one of the country’s closest watched. It also is among the top in receiving money from outside of the campaigns.

Two years ago, Republican Cravaack upset longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar. Democrat Nolan was congressman three decades ago.

Bachmann: ‘Much to do’

U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman pleads with conservatives to donate to her campaign because “eight days is not a lot of time. We still have much to do.”

In a Monday email, she asked for 8,000 people to donate to her campaign “to defeat Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and their liberal allies. …”

It was one of dozens of emails Minnesota political activists sent Monday as they seek money to fund late campaign activities in the week before the election.

Big Klobuchar lead

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has a 27-point lead among likely voters, a St. Cloud State University released Monday shows.

Of all Minnesotans, the Democrat’s lead is 34 percent.

The university survey department called it a “probably insurmountable lead” over Republican challenger Kurt Bills.

No amendment recounts

Minnesotans may be used to election recounts, they are not allowed on proposed constitutional amendments, the Minnesota secretary of state’s office reports..

However, many observers predict that if either constitutional amendment wins a week from today, that it could end up in court. Proposed amendments would define marriage as between a man and a woman and would require Minnesotans to produce photographic identification before voting.