I had never heard of John W. Ripley until this morning. Apparently, I'm not alone.
"He's the most revered war hero no one's ever heard of," Fred Schultz, senior editor of Naval History Magazine, told the New York Times in Mr. Ripley's obituary today.
It was Easter 1972 when 20,000 North Vietnamese troops and 200 tanks were heading for the South. Only a bridge separated the force from Ripley and 600 South Vietnamese soldiers. So Ripley blew up the bridge in a fashion we weren't interested in reading about in 1972.
Going back and forth for three hours while under fire, Captain Ripley swung hand over hand along the steel I-beams beneath the bridge, securing himself between girders and placing crates holding a total of 500 pounds of TNT in a diagonal line from one side of the structure to the other. The I-beam wings were just wide enough to form pathways along which he could slide the boxes.
When the boxes were in place on the bridge, Captain Ripley attached blasting caps to detonate the TNT, then connected them with a timed-fuse cord that eventually extended hundreds of feet.
"He had to bite down on the blasting caps to attach them to the fuses," John Grider Miller, author of "The Bridge at Dong Ha," said on Monday. "If he bit too low on the blasting cap, it could come loose; if he bit too high, it could blow his head apart."
Captain Ripley bit safely, and the timed-fuse cord gave him about half an hour to clamber off the bridge. Moments later, his work paid off with a shock wave that tossed him into the air but otherwise left him unharmed.
Through the miracle of YouTube, we're left with Ripley's story from Ripley himself.
"Saigon would probably have been lost in 1972 but for Ripley," said retired Marine Corps Col. John Grider Miller, author of "The Bridge at Dong Ha", in today's Washington Post.
Mrs. News Cut reported this morning that over 200 were in line at Lake Jr. High in Woodbury this morning when the polls opened. About 70 had lined up at 5:30 this morning. And, she says, six people showed up, saw the line and left.
But, the dispatch reports, the line moved quickly even though there were only 10 voting booths because people brought black pens and sat on the gym's bleachers and filled out their ballot.
Meanwhile, senior Jefferson School in Uptown voting correspondent John Nicholson reports, "It took about an hour to vote. We were in line at 6:45. We were about 100th in line."
Via Twitter, these observations from various voters:
An MPR colleague, Frank Hudson, reports that "by the time polls opened at 7:02 at Ward 8 in South Mpls there were around 80 in line, double what I counted at 6:50 AM. However the line moved fast. It would have moved faster, but they ran out of BIC pens to mark the ballots. I was out the door at 7:12 AM after voting."
Please describe your voting experience below. If you'd like to shoot a picture, use the "Contact Bob" link on the right. By the way, at the polling place in Woodbury, our intrepid reporter tells me, election judges were making sure peoples' cellphones and cameras were off.
For vicarious voting thrills, I recommend the Twitter #votereport page.(21 Comments)
Last evening, I posted a picture of Mary Lucia's dog with the request for captions that will make us laugh. This is clearly the winner in the "Photoshop" division.
This is the outstanding work of News Cut reader Dan Gilchrist of Minneapolis. It's true, I didn't actually have a Photoshop category. Now I do.
MPR is keeping track of reports of voting problems. The phone number is:
1-877-678-NEWSAccording to early phone calls, a fire alarm went off in Frogtown and "things got heated" when a voter refused to leave until she voted.
A scanning machine broke down in Kasson. Our correspondent says an election judge said they would hand count. He asked if the machine would get fixed, and the woman said, "I hope so."
And in Bloomington Precinct #13, a gentleman reported he check a half-dozen times to make sure he was registered, but when he showed up today -- the same place he voted in 2006 without a problem -- he wasn't on the list. He had to register again as a new voter.
We're also hearing that the Secretary of State's Web site is loading very slowly. People may be going there to find out where they should vote. You can find that information here, and it will also build a customized election results page for you when you come back tonight. No waiting!
For a set of tools to assist you on this Election Day, please spend some time browsing our Campaign 2008 Web site.
update 9:33 a.m. A power outage in St. Paul has affected two polling places: Maxfield School and Dunning Rec Center. A Ramsey County official says voters should continue to go to those polling locations to cast their ballot, which will be placed in the machines' emergency ballot holders. If those fill up the ballots will be removed and placed will put in banker's box and sealed. Once power is restored, judges will feed ballots through the machine and the process will be monitored by a representative from each party.
Starbucks, and a few other chains, were offering freebies today to people who vote.
Then it was brought to their attention that it's illegal to reward people for voting.
Instead, Starbuck's will now give everyone a free cup of joe.
update 10:16 p.m. Georgia now cracking down, too.(4 Comments)
Listeners and readers are sending us the occasional photo on this Election Day. Here's one from Peter Loring of St. Paul, of Central High School kids near a polling place.
First, kids, pull up your pants. And second, Mr. A and Mr. M, you blew your big shot. And, third, why aren't you in class?
I didn't get a picture of a cute moment at the polls this morning when I voted. There was a little bit of a line at the spot where you put your completed ballot in. In front of me, a young African American lad -- maybe 4 -- got a "I Voted" sticker and his dad said, "What's that say?"
"Barack Obama," he said.
The "duh" award for signage goes to Ohio:
On Election Day, it seems, the "duh" award always goes to Ohio.
If you have a picture, send it along.
Reader Bruce Harrington, writes: "An elderly neighbor of ours is an election judge. She told a story to my wife about her parents going off to vote, but because they were a house divided politically, one year in bad weather it didn't seem worth hitching up the wagons (literally) just to cancel each other's vote. So that year he decided to switch parties and make a difference."
If you have an anecdote -- preferably witty or poignant -- to share, post it below.(4 Comments)
Occasionally, there are claims in Minnesota that same-day voter registration could lead to voter fraud. Today, it appears to be preventing fairly widespread voter disenfranchisement.
We've heard from a handful of people showing up to vote, only to be told they weren't on the list of registered voters, even though -- in many cases -- they've voted before. That's not a big deal -- other than inconvenience -- because Minnesota allows same-day registration.
I just talked to Csilla Szabo of Rochester, who says she's still upset at her experience when she tried to vote at the People of Hope Church in Rochester around Midmorning. "I've been registered for two years, I went rhough the line and my name was not on the voter roll," she said. "I had to re-register and it's a good thing I had proper ID with me. I asked the election judge where I could file a complaint and she said she didn't think there was any way for individuals to file a complaint."
Ms. Szabo says while she was there, another couple had the same problem and the election judge told her that it's happened to about 75 people at that voting place today. "When I submitted my ballot, I looked at the counter and it said 750 people had voted. That means more than 10-percent of the registered voters weren't on the list."
And that means were it not for same-day registration, 10 percent of the voters would be out of luck.
Her story is similar to others we've received.
The takeaway? Even if you think you're a registered voter, take an ID to the polls with you. If you don't, and there's no time to go home and get one, you'll be shut out.
The bloggers are blogging, the reporters are reporting, the Twitterers are tweeting. Welcome to Election Day. I've got nothing on the agenda but a desire to browse and chat and maybe you do, too, so join in and let's see what we can cobble together to keep us entertained until the big game starts around 6.
update 3:11 p.m. - I couldn't embed this in the live blog (chat, whatever), but here's Allen Hill of St. Louis Park describing what happened when he went to vote today and found he, too, had been thrown off the voting rolls.(14 Comments)
It's probably a thankless job, which is why I am always sure to thank the election judges in the precinct where I vote. Nevertheless, I'm struck today by how many people are working as election judges who don't know the election law, but aren't letting that stop them from offering an interpretation of it.
Let's take the case of Chloe Maiers of Woodbury who wrote to our Public Insight Network this afternoon:
Chloe found out (through her teacher) that there is a law in Washington County that says if you turn 18 within 24 hours of Election Day... you can vote. She registered. But when she got to the polls, she wasn't on the election rolls. The judges said, "no," she can't vote. She talked to every judge there, insisting that she could... and asked them to look up the law. They did, and allowed her to re-register. "After all of this, the election judges commented on how glad I was that I didn't just give up and left after they first told me I couldn't vote." She was beyond excited."
Chloe was able to vote because Chloe insisted that the election judges look up the law before turning her away for good. But if she wasn't that insistent?
Here's Luke Schmidt of Minneapolis:
He was asked for a second form of ID in addition to an out-of-state driver's license -- a reasonable request, but his Metro State student ID was not accepted.
A check of the Secretary of State's Web site tells why this was an error. Here's the list of acceptable photo IDs:
* Minnesota Driver's License
* Minnesota ID Card
* United States Passport
* United States Military ID Card
* Tribal ID Card
* Minnesota University, College, or Technical College ID Card
"If I wouldn't have been allowed to vote, I would have been ashamed of myself," he told me this evening while confirming that there was, indeed, a photo on the Metro State ID.
The Minnesota Independent is carrying a story this evening -- unconfirmed, it should be pointed out -- of a problem between translators and GOP challengers, who allegedly were telling the election judges what the rules were and, if you believe the story, in the absence of knowledge, they held sway.
At another point he told the election judge that the translators could not be at the voting booths "hovering around." He also confronted some other translators directly, but refused to let me hear what he was saying. At that point, a few translators left, unsure if they were breaking the law.
When I talked to Csilla Szabo, one of the many people who suddenly "disappeared" from the voting rolls, she told me she asked an election judge who she can file a complaint with. "I was told individuals can't file a complaint," she said. And that's not true either, although it might go a long way to explaining why the Secretary of State's office was so quickly dismissing the mounting evidence that something wasn't quite right with the voter lists because they only had "one or two" reports, while we had dozens.
Another report, via Twitter, said an election judge reported a young man was told his mother couldn't vouch for him which is, again if true, wrong. According to the Secretary of State's Web site.
"A voter registered in the same precinct as you who can confirm your address with a signed oath."
Bloomington precinct supervisor Mario Impagliazzo acknowledged that poll workers in precinct 2 initially were confused about identification requirements, and improperly asked registered voters for their IDs. Impagliazzo said he received a phone all alerting him to the problem and he corrected it.
As former MPR report Art Hughes said in a 2004 story, election judges are at the front line of voter credibility in Minnesota, and to the extent that the process was a smooth one in the state today -- and for the most part it was -- we can thank them profusely.
For those few cases where an election judge deprived -- or delayed -- a voter's exercise of their right, we should be looking at the fastest way to prevent that in the future.
MPR's Tom Weber is at the state Capitol tonight and he'll be providing some thoughts from Secretary of State Mark Ritchie later this evening.
Update 8:38 p.m. - I've posted Ritchie's comments upthread. We just got this comment in:(2 Comments)
I probably won't go blow by blow with every state and every major event this evening. Let's face it: There are thousands of places to get that. I'll be looking -- or trying to look -- on the edges of the election results for interesting patterns etc.
So I'm hoping you'll join in via the comments section with your observations about things you find odd or interesting, but are somewhat underneath the radar.
Many of you will be reading this on Wednesday. So... shhhh... don't tell me who won and give it away.
7 p.m. - Now closing, AL, CT, DE, FL, IL, ME, MD, MA, MS, MO, NH, NJ, OK, PA, TN, DC. Florida and Pennsylvania. No doubt CNN will call the state within seconds and if McCain loses Pennsylvania, the election's over.
But the self-imposed media reform after the 2000 debacle lasted exactly one election cycle -- 2004. The big folks are back to calling states based on exit polling which, again, assumes that people talking to the pollsters are telling the truth, and the science is correct.
7:04 p.m. - NPR has just called CT, DE, DC, IL, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ & PA for Obama according to an NPR person on Twitter. The NPR Web site, however, appears to be down. Major fail, NPR.
7:08 p.m. - NewsHour calls Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey for Obama. This is significant. It's the public broadcasters jumping the gun this election.
7:10 p.m. - PBS site is also down now. Good thing nobody's running a pledge drive next week. The MPR site? Up and running smoothly, thank you very much, although we don't call elections or states.
7:14 p.m. - Did linking a candidate with President Bush work for Dems? Not so much. According to exit polling, half of voters said McCain would continue policies of President Bush, but 7 of 10 disapproved of the policies.
7:18 p.m. - Forty-two minutes until the polls close in Minnesota. After president and Senate, I suppose most eyes are focused on the 6th District. History is not on Elwyn Tinklenberg's side. No person named Elwyn has ever been elected (although I'm not sure anyone named Elwyn has ever run. However, there was a Selwyn. Sel Bowman represented Massachusetts in the 1840s. Michele Bachmann was the first Michele (or Michelle) elected to Congress.
Oh, nobody named Ashwin has ever been elected to Congress either.
7:30 p.m. - What's behind the vote so far. People don't think they're better off than four years ago, according to the Wall St. Journal analysis of exit polls. Which makes me wonder: Why don't more challengers ask that simple question anymore?
7:32 p.m. - New Hampshire goes to Obama. What happened to the formerly rock-red state? It attracted people from ultra-blue Massachusetts to come live there. Here's a nice spreadsheet in the Manchester Union Leader that documents the changin' times in the Granite state.
7:37 p.m. - More change. Zogby's telephone poll shows 78% of Latino likely voters supporting Democratic candidate Barack Obama and 13% supporting Republican John McCain in the new Univision/Reuters/Zogby International survey."
Just a few years ago, Republicans thought Hispanics were the new base, figuring they were heavily Catholic and would align with the GOP on social issues. That was the conventional spin, anyway. But last December, a Pew survey showed, Hispanics have been gravitating to the Democratic Party since at least 1999.
7:40 p.m. - CNN declares Pennsylvania goes to Obama. So that's it, then. News Cut declares Sen. Obama the new president and Ohio is now positioned as the likely coup de grace. Whatever. It's 5:40 in California.
"We can't stress how important this is for Sen. Obama," Wolf Blitzer said. That's code for "this baby's over but we can't tell you that."
8 p.m. - CNN says MN, RI, MI Wisc and NY go to Obama.
8:03 p.m. Exit polls show race is not a factor in the presidential vote, but age is. So is ageism the new racism.
In Mississippi, just to use it as a lab rate, 82% of whites are going for McCain, according to exit polls. Ninety-nine person of African Americans went with Obama.
8:07 p.m. - Have you noticed the trend, yet? The vote for Obama at the top of most states' tickets, are holding as you work your way down the ticket. If that holds in Minnesota, Al Franken will defeat Norm Coleman, and the 3rd District open seat could go to a Democrat. Right now, only John Kline in the 2nd District looks like a safe GOP seat.
8:11 p.m. - The election is coming down to one issue: The economy. Just as 2004 came down to one issue: Iraq.
8:14 p.m. - I haven't seen the final exit polls but through Midday Coleman wasn't winning a GOP stronghold (men - he was splitting them with Franken) and he was trailing the suburbs, in rural Minnesota, and in the cities. But isn't there an old adage that Republicans vote late in the day?
8:22 p.m. - Final exit poll numbers suggest a good night for Al Franken.
8:24 p.m. - Exit polling in Minnesota - the presidential race:
>> Obama easily won both the male and female vote
>> Those over 65 went for Obama by a 2-to-1 margin
>> Most people made up their mond before September
>> The economy was the issue.
>> Self-described moderates went for Obama 63-to-35 percent
>> Obama did better with white Democrats than McCain did with white Republicans
>> Evangelicals went with McCain by a 60-to-38 percent margin. White Protestants went with Obama 67-to-30 percent.
>> People making $200,000 or more went with Obama 58 to 41.
>> 80% of those surveyed said both were qualified to lead.
>> Barkley pulled from Coleman more than Franken.
>> Obama won in the suburbs, the city and rural Minnesota.
8:39 p.m. - Ohio goes Obama, McCain "party" turned off the TVs. OK, the presidential contest is over, let's turn to the Minnesota Legislature, congressional and Senate races.
8:53 p.m. State results now streaming in. Bachmann holds 3-percent lead over Tinklenberg with 12% of the vote in. The Independent candidate -- not even endorsed by his own party -- is running surprisingly strong. Details here.
8:59 p.m. - Early returns seem to suggest suburban DFLers -- perhaps the most vulnerable DFLers are running strong. There's some serious coattails being clung to tonight.
10 p.m. - CNN projects Obama. Gutsy call.
10:18 p.m. - Sen. John McCain makes his concession speech. It is graceful, although the audience booed at the name Barack Obama. Is it OK for America now to relax and thank McCain for his service? Is it possible for a country to coalesce around its new president?
10:32 p.m. - Norm Coleman with a very slight lead over Al Franken at this hour, doing much better than the exit polls had suggested. Shades of Tim Pawlenty vs. Mike Hatch. But few of the votes seem to be coming from the Iron Range so far and a lot of them are coming from the 6th, which is strong Coleman territory.
10:58 p.m. - It's two minutes from being tomorrow on the East Coast. Barack Obama makes his acceptance speech. I didn't hear boos at the mention of John McCain, but it's easier being gracious in victory than in defeat for supporters and opponents.
He invokes Martin Luther King Jr. by saying "we will get there."
11:12 p.m. - Mr. President, now that you're elected, will you be sending your children to public or private school in Washington? Hey, we might as well get the transition underway here.
11:25 p.m. - Michele Bachmann has padded her lead as Bob Anderson up his percentage to close to 11 percent. Is there an IP backlash coming?
11:29 p.m. New round of exit polling. Franken 44% Coleman 40% Barkley 15%. That's a dead-ringer for the last few polls. There's a 4% margin of error so there's your dead heat. We'll still be at it in the morning on this race.
12:47 a.m. -- The audio encoding system at MPR is hosed up so I can't get the archive of McCain's and Obama's speeches tonight. Here's the text of McCain's
Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.
My friends, we have -- we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.
A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him.
To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.
But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.
America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.
Let there be no reason now ... Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.
Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.
These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.
I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.
It is natural. It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.
We fought -- we fought as hard as we could. And though we feel short, the failure is mine, not yours.
MCCAIN: I am so...
MCCAIN: I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We do, too (OFF-MIKE)
MCCAIN: The road was a difficult one from the outset, but your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.
I'm especially grateful to my wife, Cindy, my children, my dear mother ... my dear mother and all my family, and to the many old and dear friends who have stood by my side through the many ups and downs of this long campaign.
I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me.
You know, campaigns are often harder on a candidate's family than on the candidate, and that's been true in this campaign.
All I can offer in compensation is my love and gratitude and the promise of more peaceful years ahead.
I am also -- I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I've ever seen ... one of the best campaigners I have ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength ... her husband Todd and their five beautiful children ... for their tireless dedication to our cause, and the courage and grace they showed in the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign.
We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.
To all my campaign comrades, from Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, to every last volunteer who fought so hard and valiantly, month after month, in what at times seemed to be the most challenged campaign in modern times, thank you so much. A lost election will never mean more to me than the privilege of your faith and friendship.
I don't know -- I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I'll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I'm sure I made my share of them. But I won't spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.
This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.
I would not -- I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.
Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.
AUDIENCE: USA. USA. USA. USA.
MCCAIN: Tonight -- tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama -- whether they supported me or Senator Obama.
I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.
Americans never quit. We never surrender.
We never hide from history. We make history.
Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.
12:51 a.m. - Elwyn Tinklenberg has conceded to Michele Bachmann.
Ashwin Madia has conceded to Erik Paulsen. Bottom line? No change in the Minnesota congressional representation. No change in the makeup of the Minnesota House and, unless Al Franken can make up ground on the Iron Range, no change in the Senate.
12:58 a.m. - Here's the text of Obama's speech
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could
be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has
not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.
Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity.
Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding
For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot.
Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
What was Minnesota saying tonight? On a national level: Change. On a local level: Status quo.
While most voters are focused tonight on national races, there are some local school votes underway that could bring dramatic changes to districts across Minnesota. Some may end up having to merge with neighbor districts or perhaps even dissolve. Here's a quick look at three:
McLeod West: The football team team in this school district west of Minneapolis was celebrated on ESPN and CBS News recently for its scrappy winning ways even though it can only field 19 players. But the declining enrollment that's emptied the football team may also spell the end of the district if the levy doesn't pass. According to the McLeod County Chronicle: Even if the levy passes, the district will only be able to offer a K-6 school and will need to send its high school students to other districts for at least the five years it will take to pay off the district's $2 million debt.
Minneapolis schools. It's hard to believe but enrollment in Minneapolis public schools has fallen about 30 percent since the start of the decade. That's a lot of students and money leaving the system. If the levy fails tonight, the district predicts a $30 million from the annual budget that could translate to layoffs of up to 350 teachers and significant class size increases. Anti-levy opponents are apparently being helped by an Iowa-based consultant who's been credited with killing levies in other towns.
St. Francis: It's been five years since this small north metro district approved a levy. If backers don't win tonight, the district predicts a nearly 20 percent budget cut for the high school and middle school.
No matter what happens, many districts in Minnesota are going to be fighting enrollment decline for the next few years. High school graduations are expected to peak next year and decline steadily after that with a 10 percent drop forecast between 2005 and 2015. That's a lot of revenue leaving faster than most districts are able to cut.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says the reports of people being dropped from voting rolls -- documented here throughout the day -- is a county problem. "Voter registration is handled at the county level," he told MPR's Tom Weber tonight. "With 3 million voters, there's going to be problems in the system."
He also dismissed a Minnesota Independent report claiming Somali interpreters were telling people to vote for Norm Coleman. "We haven't heard any of that particular kind of complaint and normally the election judges are pretty much on top of that," he said.
Barack Obama is going to the White House. His message resonated, at least part of his message, with people voting today But another part of his message was a call to civic duty, or volunteering.
Are you intending to volunteer more? If so, how? Where? When? If not, why not?
Are you going to -- as he suggested in Denver -- turn off the TV. Are fathers going to be more engaged with their children?(10 Comments)
Bob's theory of politics in Minnesota is if you put an Independence Party candidate not named Jesse Ventura on a ballot, Republicans win.
Independence Party fans hate me for saying that but for the most part, it's true.
They can logically point to Al Franken's Senate race tonight -- so far -- as proof the theory doesn't stand up.
And I'll counter with Bob Anderson, a veritable unknown who is clearly pulling votes from Elwyn Tinklenberg tonight, paving the way -- again, so far -- for Michele Bachmann.
As of 9:19 p.m., a quarter of the vote has been counted and Anderson has been consistent with 10-percent of the vote.
That's a stunning performance, especially when you consider the Independence Party of Minnesota -- normally desperate for candidates -- didn't endorse Anderson. In 2006, John Binkowski, who ran a spirited campaign, got his party endorsement, and was invited to participate in debates, scored only 7.8% of the vote.
(Following section updated 9:59 p.m.)
What's happening here? The Minnesota "Anderson effect." Candidates named Anderson will get votes from voters who don't know much about the candidates. I've written before about Sharon Anderson's capturing of the Republican primary for Attorney General in the '90s, a surprising win that had even the GOP disavowing her. She put up a strong fight in the last election in Minnesota, but she was running against a guy named Johnson.
Pat Awada claimed the state auditor job a few years ago, after she started using her maiden name in the campaign -- Anderson. After a divorce, she lost the battle for re-election as Pat Anderson. The Anderson effect is not inviolate.(17 Comments)
10:14 p.m. - Rep. Jim Abeler has won re-election. He is one of the targeted Republicans (by Republicans) who were punished for voting to override Gov. Pawlenty's veto of the increase in the gas tax. The seat of another Republican who was run out of office by her own party -- Kathy Tingelstad -- has fallen to Democrats.
Republicans had hoped to make hay out of the outrage over the increase in the gas tax. So far it hasn't worked, although a couple of races may go their way. In District 56B, Republicans ran a merciless campaign against Rep. Marsha Swails over the vote, and the DFL did little to help her.
She's trailing in her race so far. Swails is now leading her race.
10:22 p.m. - The DFL has lost District 51A. It was an open seat and that was a "yes" gas tax vote.
10:41 a.m. - Aaron Peterson's DFL seat is in danger of falling to the GOP. The DFL is up by 100 votes in the open seat race.
10:43 p.m. - Rep. Rod Hamilton, one of the GOP's "override six" wins re-election .
10:52 p.m. The lone House seat in the hands of an African American in Minnesota will stay in the hands of an African American. Jeff Hayden wins Minneapolis Rep. Neva Walker's seat over Green Party candidate Farheen Hakeem.
10:57 p.m. - Forty-eight House races have been decided. The DFL has picked up a net gain of one seat (Two seats went GOP to DFL; One went GOP to DFL)
11:27 p.m. - The first "Override Sixer" falls. Rep. Ron Erhardt falls to Republican Keith Downley. Erhardt was running as an Independent.
11:34 p.m. With half the vote in Rep. Frank Moe's DFL seat is tilting Republican. John Persell is trying to hold onto the Bemidji seat for the DFL. It's early in that race.
11:39 p.m. Override Six seat of former Rep. Bud Heidgerken stays Republican. Paul Anderson wins the seat easily.
11:41 p.m. - There's only one Override Six seat left. District 41B where Rep. Neil Peterson lost in the primary. The DFLer and GOPer are separated by just 115 votes with half the vote counted. Slight edge to the DFL.
12:11 a.m. - Incumbent DFLer Shelley Madore loses her District 37A seat (Apple Valley) to GOP challenger Tara Mack. She is the first DFLer to vote for the gas tax to lose her seat to the GOP tonight.
12:16 a.m. Rep. Marsha Swails retains her District 56B seat rather easily as it turned out. Julie Bunn retained her seat in District 56A. Is Woodbury losing its reputation as a GOP stronghold?
12:36 a.m. - Still 25% of the vote is out, but District 41B is looking like it will go to the DFL.That's Neil Peterson's seat, the final member of the Overrride Six, who lost in the primary. So the GOP's targeting of its own party cost it two seats to the DFL.
12:37 a.m. - That's it for me for tonight. We'll pick it up in the morning.
I didn't grow up an African American in the United States so I won't dare try to pretend what Barack Obama's victory means to African Americans. They'll have to tell that story themselves in words and, occasionally, pictures.