Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday urged Minnesota voters to turn out for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton and the party's other candidates next month, to avoid reruns of what Biden called failed Republican policies.
With recent polls showing him leading in the three-way race for governor, Dayton is trying to make sure his supporters are enthusiastic and ready to show up on Election Day.
Biden tried to help the effort with a political pep talk to about 1,000 Dayton supporters who gathered inside the fieldhouse at Macalester College. Standing next to Dayton and his running mate, Yvonne Prettner Solon, Biden boldly predicted good things ahead for Democrats.
"The reports of the death of the Democratic Party have been greatly exaggerated," Biden said. "I'm here to tell you that on Nov. 3, Democrats will retain a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and these two folks will be headed to the State Capitol."
Much of the 40-minute speech was a vigorous defense of the Obama administration's efforts to stimulate the economy and get people back to work.
Biden repeatedly blamed the Bush administration for the country's economic woes, including high unemployment and ballooning debt. He warned against giving Republicans a chance to turn back the clock on financial reforms and health care.
The vice president praised Dayton as someone who knows how to balance budgets and create jobs, and he then took a sarcastic jab at the other candidates in the governor's race.
"Mark's opponents, on the other hand, are drinking the same Kool-Aid the national Republican leadership is drinking," Biden said of Republican nominee Tom Emmer and Independent Party candidate Tom Horner. "They want to close your state budget by reducing corporate income taxes -- unusual -- and by expanding the sales tax on ordinary citizens -- unusual. I'm amazed they would say that. It's so unlike them."
Biden urged the partisan crowd to go out and "tell Minnesotans the truth" about Democrats.
Tom Diamond of St. Paul said he liked the vice president's message.
"I think it will make a difference, because the voters are pretty darn smart," Diamond said. "What the Democrats offer us as far as a future is much better than what we had in the past. I think we need to look for that future, and they offer it."
Other Democratic voters also said the rally would help excite them about the governor's race. Marcia Brekke, a retired teacher from Eagan, said she was originally a supporter of DFL candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher. But Brekke said she's now working on behalf of Dayton.
"I'm very much a union person, and I know who Mark Dayton is, so I will do whatever -- door knocking, anything I can to help, and write letters to the editor," Brekke said. "I would like to do those things."
Republicans were nearby offering their critique of the festivities. State GOP Party Chairman Tony Sutton said he didn't think Biden would find Minnesota as receptive as he did in 2008, when the Democratic presidential ticket carried the state. Sutton also said he didn't think the visit would help Dayton.
"I think the people of Minnesota have seen that the out-of-control spending hasn't brought the recovery that was promised, hasn't brought the more jobs that had been promised, and ... only resulted in a mountain of debt for us to pay nationally," Sutton said. "And here in Minnesota, we have a person in Mark Dayton, and Tom Horner, who wants to raise taxes and increase spending at a time we can least afford it."
Following the rally, the vice president headlined a private fundraiser for Dayton at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown St. Paul. A campaign spokeswoman said 300 people attended the event, with tickets ranging from $150 to $2,000. The campaign did not disclose how much money was raised.
The other major-party candidates in the race were campaigning far away from the Dayton events. Emmer campaigned in LaCrescent, Winona and Red Wing. Independence Party candidate Tom Horner was in Moorhead.