Has Minnesota reached the presidential race radar?
White House campaigns often talk a big game about putting more states in the mix, but it's not until they load up on staff, devote candidate time and pour money into TV ads when you know they really mean it.
So far Minnesota has seen a trickle of those campaign assets but far from the flood experienced in battleground states across the borders in Iowa and Wisconsin and other prizes on the electoral map.
In the past month, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has dispatched high-profile surrogates to Minnesota to make her case: running mate Tim Kaine; Kaine's wife, Anne Holten; former rival and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; and, on Thursday, her daughter, Chelsea Clinton. But Clinton hasn't bought any local television time since March, when she and Sanders were competing hard ahead of the state's precinct caucuses.
During a campaign stop Tuesday, Sanders told MPR News that nothing can be taken for granted in an unpredictable year _ even Minnesota, which has the longest streak of backing Democratic presidential candidates in the country.
"We want to make sure that Secretary Clinton wins traditionally blue states, that she holds up very well and wins the battleground states and that she holds onto the states where we expect her to do well," he said.
Meanwhile, a couple of commercials aimed at boosting Republican nominee Donald Trump began airing this week on Twin Cities network television stations, where it costs considerably more to advertise than on cable TV.
One was paid for by Trump's campaign. It prominently features daughter, Ivanka, vouching for her father.
Both ads appear to be part of a national television time purchase because neither the campaign nor the outside group have placed orders with local stations. A Trump campaign spokesman said last week that the campaign was about to launch a $100 million-plus ad campaign that included a hefty amount spent on national television.
While Minnesota voters will see the commercials, the more-coveted audience could be just across the border in western Wisconsin.
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