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Continued: Obama presses for higher base wage, equal pay

‘Hope is better’

Town-hall attendees relished the chance to ask what was on their minds. “He didn’t have canned answers,” said Ellena Schoop, a 52-year-old state technology worker wearing a union shirt. “It’s important for people to be reminded of: We’re way better off than we were before. And no, we didn’t get everything we wanted to get done. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Obama urged Minnesotans not to get in the doldrums over the seemingly relentless bad news out of Washington. He said despite all the partisan political warring, his administration continues to make progress on issues that middle-class Americans care about most. “Cynicism is popular these days,” Obama said. “Hope is better.”

Obama raised the possibility of surprise business drop-ins before he leaves town early Friday afternoon. Shortly after leaving the town hall, he headed to St. Paul’s Grand Avenue for caramels, ice cream and other goodies. “Every once in a while, I break loose,” he said. “I am feeling super loose today.”

About 60 people attended the fundraiser at the Minneapolis home of Sylvia and Sam Kaplan. The couple are major Obama contributors, and Sam Kaplan was an ambassador to Morocco. Obama brought the conversation back to his lunchtime chat with Erler, saying she embodied the “spirit of dignity and optimism and kindness” that he saw in the letter.

“In the end what matters is how hard we fight for the folks that sent us and people who in most cases inspire us to get involved in politics in the first place,” Obama said. “That’s what this is about and it’s useful for us to remember that because if we do, we’re gonna win.”

On Friday, the president’s last scheduled appearance is a speech at the Lake Harriet Band Shell.

Staff writers Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, Emma Nelson and Jim Anderson contributed to this report. 651-925-5044 651-925-5043


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