Presidential campaigns raise volume in Minnesotaby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
Minnesota is getting a dose of presidential politicking in the wake of the New Hampshire primary -- at the surrogate level at least.
St. Paul, Minn. — Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is opening two more offices in Minnesota.
The campaign for the Democratic candidate already has a state office in St. Paul. But Obama supporters announced Wednesday that additional operations will start soon in Duluth and Minneapolis to prepare for Minnesota's precinct caucuses on Feb. 5.
During a Capitol news conference, Obama state director Chris Miller said volunteers have been working hard to keep up with the growing grassroots support.
"We've contacted over 25,000 voters. We've held caucus trainings across the state. Since the second week of October we've held over 60 caucus trainings," said Miller. "And we're seeing overwhelming numbers of new folks coming in each day, as folks respond to Senator Obama's message here in Minnesota."
The Obama campaign boasts more than 500 volunteers already on the job in Minnesota.
Some of Minnesota's best-known Democrats stood up for Hillary Clinton on Wednesday as the New York senator kicked off her presidential campaign here.
Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher spoke on her behalf.
Buck Humphrey, chairman of Clinton's Minnesota campaign, says Clinton's office outside downtown Minneapolis will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week until the Feb. 5 vote.
He says the campaign expects to add several staff members and enroll hundreds of volunteers.
Some of Clinton's supporters in Minnesota were concerned about her loss in Iowa, but Humphrey says her win in New Hampshire has helped restore enthusiasm.
On the Republican side, Gov. Tim Pawlenty says Tuesday's New Hampshire primary has returned Sen. John McCain to front-runner status among the Republican presidential hopefuls.
Pawlenty compared McCain and his presidential campaign to Lazarus coming back from the dead. Minnesota's Republican governor is a co-chairman of the McCain campaign, which was near collapse a few months ago.
Pawlenty says McCain now has to translate his New Hampshire momentum into more victories in other states.
"Senator McCain I think is a strong, courageous, independent-minded leader that was very apealing to New Hampshire voters. And I think that same appeal will now spread across the country," says Pawlenty.
Pawlenty adds he might travel to Michigan this weekend to campaign for McCain, but the trip is not yet confirmed.
Two-time Republican runner-up Mitt Romney will try to squeeze Minnesota into his travel schedule as the presidential race heads toward Super Tuesday.
State Romney for President co-chairman Brian Sullivan says the schedule is always fluid, but a visit is "penciled in" for a date before Feb. 5.
Sullivan says the former Massachusetts governor has enjoyed better results across the board than his GOP rivals -- with a win in Wyoming's caucuses and second-place finishes in the more closely watched Iowa and New Hampshire contests.
Sullivan says it's becoming clear that none of the Republican candidates is going to score a knockout this year and the campaign will be a long "slog."
Minnesota voters weigh in on Feb. 5, although there will be only a nonbinding straw poll on the Republican side.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)