Acknowledging the "challenging" time for Democrats, Democratic National Committee chair Tim Kaine came to Minnesota Wednesday to offer his support.
Kaine, who was born in St. Paul, also offered that he has a "soft spot" for the Gopher state but said that wouldn't prejudge Minneapolis' bid for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Appearing with Democratic candidate for governor Mark Dayton, along side Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Kaine said the DNC would aid in the "battle" to take the Minnesota governor's race from Republicans' hands. But, he said, Democrats aren't going to have an easy time this year.
"Places where we are strong we've got to defend but it also means we are playing offense in a whole lot of governors' and other races," Kaine said.
"We are going to have to battle here in the midwest so it's Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin. Those are five very, very important states," Kaine said. "It's a challenging time."
He said that Minnesota's governor race is one of the top five potential pick-ups.
"Minnesota is offense not defense so that's one of the reasons I really like Minnesota," the chairman said.
State Republican Party officials were on hand at the Minneapolis event to gleefully share a front page headline declaring, "Dear Democrats: Your message isn't working," reflecting national poll numbers.
GOP deputy chair Michael Brodkorb said local Republicans are "fired up." Brodkrob claimed it isn't helpful for Kaine to come to Minnesota to underscore Democrats' problems but said "I don't know," when asked if it would be helpful for embattled Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele to come to Minnesota.
Brodkorb also said if the Democratic convention comes to Minnesota in 2012, "it is a great opportunity for Republicans to contrast."
Kaine, for his part, didn't offer many clues as to whether the Twin Cities would win its second national convention in a row. St. Paul hosted the turbulent 2008 Republican National Convention.
"I definitely have a soft spot for the Twin Cities," Kaine said. But, he added, that would "absolutely not," help the Minneapolis' bid to host President Obama as he presumably accepts the party's nomination for a second term. Minneapolis is vying against three other finalists.
"I will be a scrupulous and fair and non-arbitrary umpire," Kaine said. He said a convention decision would likely be made by the end of the year.
While he was in town, Kaine also met with DFL funders and had a planned meeting with Democratic volunteers.