Under an overcast sky just down the street from TCF Bank Stadium, a long line of people waited for President Barack Obama’s visit in support of DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton on Saturday morning.
But Dayton wasn’t there to shake hands and greet potential voters. Instead, working his way up and down the line was Independence Party candidate Tom Horner.
Horner saw this as too good an opportunity to pass up. He was already close by, tailgating before the Gophers game with running mate Jim Mulder outside of the stadium.
And while Saturday’s spotlight was clearly on the rally in the University Field House, that didn’t mean Horner and Republican candidate Tom Emmer could take the day off with the election just 10 days away.
To both candidates, it was business as usual.
For Horner and Mulder, tailgating is not only a good time but also an ideal way to meet a lot of passersby.
"There are a lot of pretty important people that hit the stadium and enjoy the game," Mulder said. "And we’ve been doing this for a few years now, so it’s a tradition and an art form."
A surprisingly influential crowd of University administrators strolled by the Horner tents, including two regents.
While the party under the tent struck up casual conversations over snacks and drinks, the chats Horner was having tended to gravitate toward health care and job creation.
At about 10:30 a.m., Horner and fellow tailgaters made their way into the stadium where he spent the game meeting Gophers fans in the luxury boxes.
His day was capped off with a couple of fundraisers.
While both Horner and Dayton kept to campus Saturday, the Emmer camp dotted around the cities making stops for rallies in four suburbs.
Emmer started his day at a Woodbury rally with U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann. At 1 p.m., Emmer made a stop in Burnsville to deliver a speech to about a hundred people gathered in the parking lot of a Godfather’s Pizza.
The tightly formed crowd was out in support of Emmer and a slew of other local candidates and officeholders including Rep. John Kline of the second congressional district.
A number of the speeches received booming responses from the eager crowd but none louder than for the final speaker, Emmer.
He focused on Dayton’s tax agenda and a comment he overheard the former senator make at a forum earlier this year, calling politics his "hobby."
And while nearly every line delivered by Emmer received raucous applause, perhaps nothing was better received than the links he made between Dayton and Obama.
"They’ve asked me, ‘What’s the significance of the president being in town?’" Emmer said. "I think it makes it even more clear the choice that people are going to be asked to make on Nov. 2."
He went on to urge his supporters to make a final push before the election so they don’t regret a Dayton win they could have done more to prevent.
Emmer finished the day with a rally in Chanhassen with a state senator and a rally and cookout in Minnetonka with U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen.
Emmer was on campus earlier this month for a College Republicans rally and said another trip to campus before the election was unlikely because there just isn’t much time left.
As for Obama’s speech?
He said he probably wouldn’t be tuning into the news to catch it.
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