Minnesotans come to hear Sen. Obama

  • Article by: PATRICE RELERFORD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 4, 2008 - 10:57 AM

A diverse group of Minnesota flocked to the Target Center on Saturday to see presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama.

Minnesotans from all walks of life packed the Target Center on Saturday for Sen. Barack Obama's campaign rally.

The mood at the event remained festive from start to finish despite long lines outside the arena and a two-hour wait for the Illinois senator to take the stage.

Supporters kept themselves busy by tapping their feet to recorded music from legends such as Curtis Mayfield, the O'Jays and John Mayer as well as a live performance by Twin Cities' rockers Golden Smog.

"I've never seen this before from a politician," said Amy Axelson of Maplewood. "People are excited about the government again."

Axelson, 35, said it was difficult for her to describe Obama's appeal, but the mother of two said she believes the United States is at a turning point and needs a different type of leader.

She said Obama is the first candidate she's ever felt strongly enough about to try to convince others to support him.

"He and his whole family would be role models for our entire country," Axelson said. "Ethically and morally he stands for what we used to believe in."

Even before the doors opened the Obama appearance had taken on the feel of a rock or hip-hop concert, as drivers honked and waved at the festive crowd.

Yvonne Cheek, of Minneapolis, paid close attention to the Illinois senator's speech. Cheek said Obama offers new hope for a country that's sick of the "old tired ways of thinking".

"He's chosen to take the high road at all of these junctures where he could have went the other way," Cheek said.

Rick Osterhaus, 60, of St. Paul, said he's struggled with whether to vote for Obama or Hillary Clinton. The former teacher said Clinton has more political experience but Obama has charisma and appeals to a diverse cross section of voters, including young adults and other first time voters.

"I'm the oldest guy here," Osterhaus said.

Karin Patrick, of Roseville, said she jumped at the opportunity to get a ticket to Saturday's rally despite battling bronchitis recently.

"People keep trying to pigeonhole him,'' Patrick said as she surveyed the diverse crowd at the Target Center. "But it's a good cross section of the Twin Cities."

Patrice Relerford • 612-673-4395

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