Both Democrats and Republicans say they're excited President Obama is visiting Minnesota this week — but for very different reasons.
Obama is scheduled to arrive in the Twin Cities Thursday. He will hold a town hall style meeting in Minneapolis at Minnehaha Falls and attend a fundraiser later for the Democratic congressional campaign arm. He will also deliver a speech at the Lake Harriet bandshell on Friday.
"There's no one in this country that can excite Democrats more than President Barack Obama," said Ken Martin, chairman of the DFL party.
The high dollar, private fundraiser will help congressional candidates in Minnesota and across the country, Martin says, and it will also help motivate rank-and-file DFLers to vote in November.
It's expected the president will talk about Minnesota's minimum wage increase and the Women's Economic Security Act passed by the DFL-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton earlier this year. Democrats hailed those initiatives as ways to improve the lives of working women and families.
"There's no doubt as we head into the election, women are an important part of this electorate, and we want to remind them exactly how we have been able to help them improve their lives and make it easier for them to get paid what they're worth in the workplace," Martin says.
Republicans say Obama's visit will be a boon to their candidates. His poll numbers are sinking and many Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
"I had the misfortune of being minority leader back in 2008 when he was first elected and I knew how wildly popular he was in the state of Minnesota back in 2008," said Marty Seifert, one of the four Republican candidates running for governor against Mark Dayton. "That is not the case anymore. The president is as much a liability as he is an asset in Minnesota this year."
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden has already tried to tie the president's policies to DFL Senator Al Franken. McFadden is using Obama's visit to highlight the national economy — which he says has not shown any significant growth over the past six years.
"This has been the worst recovery to a recession in the history of the United States," McFadden said. "And I don't think the administration or Sen. Franken has done anything to help the economy and I think they're causing the economy not to grow because they continue to put regulation after regulation on it."
McFadden says to create jobs the country needs lower energy prices, which he says would come with faster approval of pipelines and liquefied natural gas plants. On the minimum wage, McFadden says he'd prefer an increase in the earned income tax credit to a higher minimum wage.
Franken is supporting a minimum wage increase and says he's introduced legislation designed to improve the economy such as spending more for job training and lowering the cost of college.
Franken's staff said he wasn't available for an interview but they say Franken will travel to Minnesota on Air Force One and attend both events with the president. Franken said last month that he wouldn't shy away from appearing with Obama even though they disagree on issues including the medical device tax, ethanol and corporate mergers.
"There are plenty of places where I have differences with him, but I would certainly welcome him to this state to campaign for me," Franken said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she too will fly with Obama from Washington to Minneapolis and talk with him about flooding in the state. She will attend both events, and Gov. Dayton says he will be glad to appear with the president during his visit to Minneapolis.