Signs and portents

Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman has Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party blood running in his veins. His father was the DFL majority leader of the Minnesota state senate from 1973-1981. Coleman is almost always a reliably partisan hack. (Full disclosure: I’ve had the honor of being attacked personally by Coleman in one of his recent columns.)
In late August, however, Coleman performed some shoe leather reporting and took a trip to Anoka County — swing voter country just north of the Twin Cities — on the day that John Kerry was campaigning at Anoka Hennepin Technical College. Coleman filed a devastating column on what he saw in Anoka that day.
Visiting the Outpost, a working man’s bar in the vicinity of Kerry’s August appearance in Anoka, Coleman reported, for example: “In a place full of carpenters, plumbers, auto mechanics, factory workers and other blue-collar guys who used to vote for Democrats almost as devoutly as they used to drink beer (most were sipping soft drinks), I could only turn up one John Kerry voter. The rest plan to vote for George W. Bush.” We took note of Coleman’s column in “Warning signs for Kerry.”
Yesterday John Kerry returned to Minnesota for his seventh or eighth campaign appearance, a rally in the parking lot next to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. Unlike Anoka County, Minneapolis is prime DFL territory, approximately one block from Coleman’s Portland Avenue aerie at the Star Tribune.
Coleman covers the Kerry rally in his Star Tribune column today: “Ahh, comic relief at a political rally.” We could simply note that Coleman failed to observe much enthusiasm at the rally, but then we would be depriving ourselves of the pleasurable details. Coleman turns a gimlet eye on the event:

John Kerry came to Minneapolis and dropped in on the backside parking lot of the Metrodome and droned on for half an hour to a crowd of supporters who had been waiting for two hours in the cold before he was introduced by Walter Mondale and delivered his canned stump speech.
Thursday night’s rally produced a nice campaign turnout, but it also was proof we have reached campaign burnout: Thousands of Kerry supporters left before their man finished talking, scramming like Twins fans in the sixth inning of a blowout, going home glad to have seen their champion but feeling no need for another inning of stale lines about how Bush should’ve killed Osama in Tora Bora.

The Star Tribune’s report by Bob von Sternberg and Terry Collins on Kerry’s speech doesn’t exactly conflict with Coleman’s gimlet-eyed column, but von Sternberg and Collins suggest the existence of excitement that seems to have escaped Coleman: “Kerry ignites Dome crowd.” According to von Sternberg and Collins, “Tens of thousands of fans roared their way through an amped-up 34-minute version of the Massachusetts senator’s stump speech, in which he caustically indicted the Bush administration on everything from the war on terrorism to the budget deficit to prescription drugs.”
Coincidentally, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the latest Mason-Dixon poll results showing President Bush with a narrow lead in Minnesota: “Kerry hasn’t secured blue swing states.” My guess is that the Kerry campaign is seeing similar results in its own polling. If true, that would explain why Kerry finds it necessary to campaign within two weeks of election day in a state that he should have nailed down a month ago.


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