Two Minnesota voters offer a case for their candidates

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
Republican nominee Donald Trump, left, speaks as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton looks on during the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas on Oct. 19.
Mark Ralson | AFP | Getty Images file

Tuesday is Election Day — the final opportunity to weigh in on the 2016 presidential election. So we asked two Minnesota voters — Joe Lendacky and Curtis Olson — to make their final pitch for the candidates they're backing.

As the clock ticks down on campaign slogans and partisan ads, here's what they had to say.

Joe Lendacky: In support of Republican nominee Donald Trump

Joe Lendacky, 47, is a Trump supporter.
Joe Lendacky, 47, has a gigantic Trump-Pence campaign sign on the building that houses his plumbing business up the hill from Duluth along Highway 53 in Hermantown, Minn., on Oct. 28.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Lendacky, 47, doesn't have one of those red Donald Trump baseball caps, and he doesn't wear a Trump T-shirt.

But he's got a giant Trump/Pence campaign sign on the building that houses his plumbing business. It's just up the hill from Duluth, along Highway 53 in Hermantown.

Lendacky said he put up the sign along the busy stretch of roadway because he "can't sit back and do nothing."

"People are going to see it," he said. "It's lit up at night. It's bright. It's there during the day."

He thinks the country needs Trump in the White House to help shrink the federal government and return control to the people.

"It's a machine, and it's a bad machine because it's driven by special interests," he said. "It's driven by lobbyists. It's driven by money."

And he thinks one of Trump's most valuable attributes is that he's an outsider.

"He's the ultimate independent," Lendacky said. "He says what he thinks. He's unscripted. He stands for the core values — everything, basically everything in the Constitution — the Bill of Rights, basically the Ten Commandments for the United States, he goes back to that."

Although he's voted for Republicans, Democrats and Independents, Lendacky said, he defaults to Republicans if he's unsure about a race.

And for him, this year, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would be the wrong choice for the country.

"If Hillary gets in, we're continuing an eight-year failed administration and we're turning it into a 12-year failed administration," Lendacky said. "We're in bad trouble financially ... We're on a downhill spiral."

Lendacky said he doesn't believe economic growth and unemployment statistics that show a dramatically improved economy from President George W. Bush to President Barack Obama. He calls them "doctored numbers" — and he thinks Trump has gotten "a raw deal in the press."

Still, Lendacky said, Trump's tendency to favor personal attacks over talk about policy has frustrated him, and he thinks it's hurt Trump's candidacy.

As for that big sign on the side of his building, Lendacky said it's been bad for business. "We're in a left-leaning environment here," he said.

But he doesn't think his plumbing enterprise will take a long-term hit for his support of Trump.

"By Christmas, everybody's going to forget that Joe the plumber in Hermantown had a big old Trump sign on," Lendacky said. "They're going to worry about, 'Hey we don't have any heat' or 'We need our bathroom remodeled.'"

Curtis Olson: In support of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton

Curtis Olson, 72, is a Clinton supporter.
Curtis Olson, 72, of south Minneapolis, holds a homemade Hillary Clinton sign, one of three in his front yard on Nov. 2.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Olson, 72, has three small signs promoting Hillary Clinton's candidacy in his south Minneapolis front yard. His neighbor made them after news broke recently that the FBI was looking at another batch of Clinton's emails. He felt as though he ought to declare his support publicly.

"Some people are afraid to put any signs out, that it's going to anger people or their house is going to get egged or something," Olson said. "But I think it's really important as a community that we let people know."

Olson said his brand of politics is "probably liberal." He retired from a job coordinating visual displays for department stores. He doesn't think the government is too big or out of control.

"I don't know what people have against big government," Olson said. "This whole 'government is too big' [argument] is too easy of an answer. If government gets out of everything, then what happens to our air quality? There's no law against how we mine things."

Olson said he thinks Clinton's record of public service makes her worthy of the presidency.

"She's been in service for a long time, and I think she's been trying to do the right thing for a long time, and I just think she's more qualified than Trump," Olson said.

He thinks Trump would spell trouble for the country. At home, Olson worries Trump would further divide Americans. And abroad: "I don't think he can get up and compete with other world leaders, because I think most people would think, 'You're not a serious person,'" said Olson.

He's frustrated that Republicans have labeled his preferred candidate a liar. "They all say, "Crooked Hillary," and [that] she lies and lies," Olson said. "'We don't trust her.' And I go, 'What has she lied about? I don't know anything that she's lied about.'"

And while the 2016 race for the presidency has been bitter, Olson said, he hopes the country ultimately benefits from it. "If nothing else, it's gotten people involved and maybe thinking about politics, which I think is a step forward for the country," he said.

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