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UPDATED: President Obama’s Visit to the Twin Cities

President Barack Obama shakes hands with well-wishers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. (Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media)

President Barack Obama was in the Twin Cities today.

Here’s the latest from pool reporter Baird Helgeson of the Star Tribune, who was with the President.


POOL REPORT FIVE

Uneventful drive from downtown Minneapolis to the airport. Hundreds lined the streets in downtown. Gawkers on Interstate 35 traveling the other direction strained to watch the procession as they navigated busy freeway traffic.

The President boarded Air Force 1 about 3:40 p.m. Air Force 1 slowly made its way to the runway, then blasted toward the horizon, lifting its wheels from the Tarmac at 3:52 p.m.

This ends the pool report from Minnesota.


POOL REPORT FOUR

In Minneapolis, the President had three rapid-fire fundraisers:

A luncheon had 100 people at $5,000 each.

A roundtable had 20 people at $40,000 each (not open press)

A second roundtable had 10 people at $50,000 each (not open press).

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton introduced the President to about 100 people attending the fundraiser, which was open press. The event included a at least a couple Minnesota legislators (Sen. Katie Sieben and Sen. Terri Bonoff).

To applause, the President recalled serving with Dayton in the U.S. Senate.

“He’s doing a great job now,” Obama said.

“I know you guys are pleased the Vikings are staying here in Minnesota,” he said to applause.

He called Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak a “dear friend” and said he was part of the draft Obama campaign long before most others.

The president said people are still struggling and “too many homes are underwater.”

He said for the last three and a half years, he “just tried to make dogged progress and stay at it.”

The President said he was determined not to “plunge into a full-blown recession when we came into office.”

Because of all the steps they have taken, “the economy started to stabilize.”

“We are not there yet, but the good news is that we have made enormous progress,” he said.

He said he didn’t run for office just to deal with the immediate crisis, but do build stability into the long-term economy.

“What we have been fighting for is not just to right the ship short-term, it is also to make sure that over the long term we are building an economy that can last, an economy with a firm foundation.”

He said that’s why the administration tackled healthcare and education reform.

He talked about adding money, but also reform to improve education, lowering the cost of college loans, and reducing the dependence on foreign oil.

“So that halfway into the next decade, cars will get 55 miles per gallon,” he said.

“On each of these fronts, we have tried to deal with the immediate challenges in front of us, but also think long-term,” he said.

“Throughout this process, the other side has had a different vision,” he said. “My hope was that we’d have Republicans and Democrats coming together because the nation was facing an extraordinary challenge. It turns out, there approach – to put it mildly – their approach was that if we can beat Obama, that should be our primary focus.”

In our past, whenever the country has succeeded, it was because everybody had a level platform to succeed, the President said,

We are going to have as stark a contrast in presidential candidates as we’ve seen in a long time, the President said.

“John McCain believed in climate change. John believed in campaign finance reform. John believed in immigration reform. There were some areas where you saw some overlap.”

In this election, the Republican Party has moved in a fundamentally different direction.

“The center of gravity for their party has shifted,” he said. “Some of the things we have taken for granted, it’s been difficult to take for granted the last three and a half years.”

He talked about his debt reduction, government streamlining and public works ideas that Congress has rejected.

“I believe that when we are successful in this election, that the fever may break,” he said. “There is a tradition in the Republican Party of more sense than that. My hope and my expectation is that after the election — now that the goal of beating Obama doesn’t make much sense because I am not running again – that we can start getting some cooperation again.”

He also talked about the need for a transportation package “to get people back to work right now” and immigration reform.

“It is better for our country, and by the way, it saves us money if all those people working underground are above ground and paying taxes.”

“My expectation is that if we can break this fever, we can invest in clean energy and energy efficiency,” he said.

“So much is at stake in this election,” he said. “This is going to be a very close race.”

He said Republicans are using the same ideas they have for a decade “that helped get us into this mess in the first place.”

“I am so convinced of America’s future,” he said.

He said countries around the world still look to the U.S. for leadership.

“We’ve got all the tools to make the 21st century an American century just like the 20th century,” he said.


POOL REPORT THREE

Motorcade started rolling from Honeywell about 1:25 p.m. We drove past hundreds of people lining the streets. One sign read: “How about a hug for my birthday?”

Hundreds lined downtown Minneapolis streets, with a crowd decidedly more urban hipster. No signs, but a lot of cell phone cameras.

Seamless trip to downtown Minneapolis. Arrived at 1:37 p.m.

Fundraisers are at The Bachelor Farmer, which is owned by Eric Dayton, son of Gov. Mark Dayton. The restaurant specializes in Scandinavian cuisine. It is in a refurbished building near the Mississippi River.

Holding in adjoining shop.


POOL REPORT TWO

Hundreds of residents lined the streets in Golden Valley as the President’s motorcade drove past. One sign said “Welcome Obama” and another said “Obama Rocks.”

Hundreds of people gathered at the Honeywell warehouse.

The president took a tour of the massive warehouse, with glistening floors and tidy machinery.

Doug Kettler, a Honeywell operations leader, showed the President machinery that makes oil regulators for home furnaces, producing up to 4,000 a week.

“It’s awesome,” Kettler said a few minutes before the President came to his work area.

When the President arrived, wearing safety glasses but not his sport coat, he shook hands with the workers and looked at the packaged oil controllers.

“Made in America,” he said. “I like that.”

Kettler and his crew later said they were all Obama supporters.

Dempsey Miller, one of the workers, did not have an Obama hat, so he wore one from Ohio with a giant “O” on the front.

“I wore it to show him that I support him,” Miller said.

Another worker, William Gordon, wore black jeans emblazoned with a Tiger and other colorful designs on the backside.

The pants stopped the President, who asked to see the design.

“Just for you,” Gordon said.

Later, Gordon said he had only worn the pants a couple times.

“This was a special occasion, for the president,” he said.

At 12:16 p.m., the President bound up on stage: “Hello, Golden Valley!”

“Hey, it is good to be back in Minnesota,” he said. “It is good to see your governor, Mark Dayton.”

He said he and Dayton had been talking about making sure the Minnesota Vikings are staying in the state.

Dayton just successfully led an effort to build the Vikings a new $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

The President said he was rooting for the Vikings to stay in Minnesota.

“That’s hard for a Bears fan,” he said.

“The governor did a great job,” the President said.

Somebody in the crowd said they were praying for a new stadium.

“Praying never hurts, it helps,” he said.

The president talked about his recent bus tour through Minnesota and Iowa.

He said he needed some “Minnesota Nice.”

“Today, we are still digging our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” the President said.

We are not creating jobs as fast as we want, he said.

The President said we need an “economy built to last over the long term.”

“We will cone back stronger, we do have better days ahead, and that’s because of you,” the President said.

About that time, the President was interrupted with chants of “four more years!”

“We have responsibilities that are bigger than an election,” he said to cheers. “Now is not the time to pay politics…Americans expect their politicians to work, regardless what year it is.”

Congress should pass a bill to prevent states from having to make thousands more layoffs, he said.

He called on Congress to extend tax credits for clean-energy companies that are helping the country “break the dependence of foreign oil.”

“We need to pass those tax credits right now,” he said.

Those are all steps that could be taken to strengthen the economy and give us some insurance if things overseas get worse, the President said.

“I believe that no one who fights for this country should ever have to fight for a job when they come home,” he said, drawing loudest and longest applause and whistles of the speech.

Speech ended at 12:43 p.m.

Read President Obama's Complete Remarks


President Barack Obama steps off Air Force One at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. (Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media)

POOL REPORT ONE

The President emerged from the Air Force One at around 10:50 a.m. on a glorious, sunny morning in Minneapolis. AF1 came to a stop outside an Air Force Reserve hangar.

The President strode down the steps wearing a dark blue suit and black shoes. He was joined on the flight by U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum and Tim Walz, D-Minn.

President Barack Obama greets well-wishers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. (Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media)

He was greeted by Democratic U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar along with U.S. Rep. Keith

Ellison, D-Minn. He was also met by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

The President had a particularly long chat with Ellison, but the pool reporter could not hear the conversation.

President then jogged over and immediately began shaking hands with about 90 well-wishers, including one woman carrying an Obama portrait. The snapped pictures with cameras and camera phones as he got close.

“How is everybody doing?” the President asked?

The crowd cheered.

“Welcome to Minnesota,” one woman said.

“School out yet?” the President asked one school age kid.

About 11:07 a.m (cst) the President was in his motorcade bound for a Honeywell facility in Golden Valley, a Minneapolis suburb.

President Barack Obama waves to the crowds before leaving Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in the presidential limousine. (Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media)

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