MINNEAPOLIS -- Former President Bill Clinton rallied the Democratic faithful today on behalf of President Barack Obama, and the campaign used events in Minneapolis and Duluth to snare volunteers for the last week of campaign season.
“I think Barack Obama has taken good care of this country,” Clinton told a packed University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus rally during a 38-miknute speech.
Clinton is the highest-level Obama speaker expected in Minnesota as the campaign nears an end. Clinton, whose speech started 38 minutes late so he could take photos with Obama volunteers, headed to the University of Minnesota Duluth after finishing in the Twin Cities.
Clinton, a star among Democrats 12 years after he left office, attacked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, saying he refuses to release details of most of his proposals.
“See me after the election about that,” Clinton said Romney is telling Americans.
The white-haired Clinton said he is more enthused about Obama now than four years ago.
“Which candidate is more likely to keep us on the road to a more perfect union?” he asked, with the crowd leaving no doubt they thought it would be Obama.
The Minneapolis crowd, estimated at 1,800, was heavy on college students, many of whom are too young to remember much about his tenure that ended a dozen years ago.
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was expected to land in Minneapolis later today for event in Wisconsin, including nearby Hudson.
Clinton’s visit came as Republicans claimed the race in Minnesota is getting closer.
“The Obama campaign is having to send its top surrogate, former President Clinton, to attempt to save Minnesota,” state Republican Chairman Pat Shortridge said.
Shortridge said the Obama campaign is worried. The latest poll, by the Star Tribune, showed Obama with a 3-point lead in the state that last voted for a Republican president when Richard Nixon won.
“Minnesotans are tired of the same lackluster policies from President Obama and are looking for serious solutions to the problems our country is facing,” Shortridge said.
The price of admission to the Clinton event was listening to a pitch from the Obama campaign to volunteer in the campaign’s waving days.
“He sees an audience, I see volunteers,” said Jeff Blodgett, director of Obama’s Minnesota effort.
As people lined up to see Clinton, they were asked to contribute “four shifts for four days for four more years,” he said. Each shift would be four hours volunteering for the campaign.
State officials acting as Clinton’s warm-up act encouraged Democrats to volunteer in the campaign’s final days. They also raised their voices for other Democrats and against two proposed constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The Obama campaign continues to operate at full throttle, despite the fact that Romney has no presence in Minnesota and the state Republican Party faces major financial problems.
Clinton’s speech was divided into two parts. In the first half, he attacked Romney, In the second half he praised Obama.
Among the loudest cheers came when at the end when Clinton told the university crowd that Obama has improved student loan programs.
Among the president’s accomplishments, Clinton said, is a program that would adjust student loan payments based on income. That means, he said, that students would be more likely to move to low-paying rural Minnesota communities.