To Clinton’s questions, Duluth crowd answers: Obama

Oct. 30–There are three great questions in this election, former Bill Clinton told a crowd of several hundred people at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Kirby Ballroom today:

Who is more likely to help the middle and lower classes?

Who is more likely to develop a 21st century economy that brings back the American Dream?

And who is more likely — in today’s divisive political environment — to form a more perfect union?

To members of the audience, “Obama” was the answer to each question.

Clinton was in Duluth campaigning for President Obama, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, congressional candidate Rick Nolan and others.

“I’ve worked my heart out in this election,” Clinton said, going on to say that he often doesn’t know if he’s working with Democrats or Republicans, because he works with people interested in solving problems.

“The rise of the far right … really threatens America,” he said.

“Obama’s plan is better,” he said.

Clinton tailored part of his speech to the college students in the audience.

“If every college student knows these facts, the election” would be in the bag he said, going on to describe the details of the student loan program Obama supports.

Romney’s plan, Clinton said, would make students loans more expensive and would increase the drop-out rate and cause America to lose ground in global standing.

Clinton also addressed the differences in Obama’s and Romney’s health-care and Medicare plans.

“You have to re-elect President Obama,” he said. “Obama is much more likely to give us that perfect union.”

Duluth fire officials allowed between 600 and 700 people into the room after the doors opened to the public at 1:10 p.m. — 65 minutes before Clinton took the stage. Authorities estimate that at least 1,000 people were waiting in line before the doors opened.

As people filled the floor space in front of the stage, campaign videos played on two screens on either side of the stage.

After being led in the Pledge of Alliance and Star Spangled Banner, some members of the audience chanted “Just vote no” and “Four more years.”

The program began at 1:50 p.m. with Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

“Are you ready to win in November?” she asked to a chorus of cheers.

“We have a lot of work to do,” she continued, mentioning defeating Minnesota’s two amendments, taking back the state Legislature and electing Rick Nolan to Congress.

Klouchar recognized a number of state and local office-holders and candidates sitting in the VIP section of the room, including Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, Nolan, Duluth Mayor Don Ness and state Sen. Dave Tomassoni.

Klobuchar entertained the crowd with the story of the first time she met Bill Clinton in Washington, D.C. She was going to introduce him at an event. When the band began playing “Hail to the Chief,” she started walking until a hand landed on her shoulder.

“I know you’re going to do great out there,” the president told her. “But when they play that song, I usually go first.”

She became serious, talking about how America can continue to move forward or return to the Republican policies that led the country into the Great Recession.

“We are going to win this election for Barak Obama,” she concluded.

Congressional candidate Rick Nolan followed Klobuchar.

Nolan attacked the fiscal policies of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, his running mate, Paul Ryan, and U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack.

“This bunch … wants more tax breaks for big companies to ship our jobs overseas,” he said.

No one knows better the differences at stake in this election than Clinton does, Nolan said as he introduced the former president.

To ensure that they got in, many of the audience members waited in line for hours. By 11:30 a.m. several hundred people were waiting in line outside the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Kirby Ballroom, where former President Bill Clinton’s scheduled 1 p.m. appearance had been pushed back to 2 p.m.

The first was Caroline Laurent, a French citizen working on a master’s of tribal administration and governance at UMD. She had been waiting in line since 6 a.m. to see Clinton.

“Next to Obama, he is the top American president in France,” she said.

Obama is very popular in France for his foreign policies, his treatment of gays and others.

“The goodness shines out of him,” she said. “Although I can’t vote, I’m here to give my support. And I’m telling everyone to vote, vote for Obama.”

Just behind Laurent was a group of six pharmacy students, three of whom had arrived at 2:30 a.m. and slept there.

“We’re here because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Bill Clinton,” said Ellie Stasney, 25. “He’s an icon for our generation.”

The students had cut class and asked their instructor to reschedule an exam so they could attend the event.

“Twenty years from now, we’re not going to remember an examination,” Beth Fruehauf said. “We will remember hearing Bill Clinton speak in the first row.”

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