U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken will not fly to Minnesota with President Obama this morning because of a Senate vote to confirm Stuart Jones as the new U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.
The Senate vote is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. EST. Air Force One will depart Andrews Air Force shortly after 11 a.m.
“[Klobuchar] will return to Minnesota later this afternoon and looks forward to events with the President over the next two days,” said Brigit Helgen, the senator’s spokeswoman.
Franken spokesman Ed Shelleby said: “Because of today’s Senate vote to confirm the Ambassador to Iraq, Sen. Franken needs to be in Washington and will not be able to travel with the President to Minnesota, but he looks forward to spending time with the President in Minnesota tomorrow.”
WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar will ride out with President Barack Obama Thursday to Minneapolis and attend events with him both days, staffers confirmed Wednesday.
Both Franken and Klobuchar say they want to talk to the president on the plane about the recent flooding in Minnesota.
Klobuchar will speak at the Lake Harriet Bandshell Friday, where Obama is scheduled to make a speech on the economy.
Neither office was able to confirm attendance Tuesday because the Senate voting schedule was still in flux.
Other confirmed Democrats from the Congressional delegation attending at least some of the events with Obama: Rep. Rick Nolan, Rep. Tim Walz, Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Keith Ellison. Rep. Collin Peterson will not go to any of them.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton was enthusiastic about the visit earlier in the week, telling the Strib: "I would be glad to appear with President Obama," he said. "I would want to appear with any president of any political party."
Led by U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum and Erik Paulsen, all eight members of Minnesota’s congressional House delegation have signed a letter to President Obama, requesting that he withdraw the nomination of New York businessman George Tsunis to be ambassador to Norway.
“Mr. President, we believe that you would serve the Norwegian-American community well by withdrawing Mr. Tsuni’s name and nominating somebody that will help our relationship continue to grow and thrive,” the letter reads.
Minnesota is home to the largest Norwegian-American population in the United States and both the state’s U.S. senators – Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar -- also oppose Obama's nominee to fill a post that has been vacant since the fall.
Tsunis was nominated for the diplomatic post nine months ago.
While testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Tsunis “exhibited an embarrassing lack of knowledge of Norway including admitting he has never visited the country, insulting part of the coalition government, and being unable to answer even a basic question about new opportunities for cooperation between our two countries,” the letter reads.
“Mr. Tsunis further demonstrated this ignorance by believing that Norway, as a monarchy, has a president. His ill-informed comments deeply offended several Norwegian officials and have caused many to doubt his ability to serve as an effective ambassador.”
Minnesota's two leading political parties are both opening campaign field offices throughout the state, as they get ready for a 2014 election cycle with statewide races and what's expected to be a hard-fought battle for control of the state House on tap.
Field offices are tasked with mobilizing volunteers and motivating voter turnout through phone calls and other organizing.
The DFL announced Thursday it has opened 18 field offices in locations throughout Minnesota. Several of the metro-area offices are hosting official openings in the next few days, including the Saturday opening of a Minneapolis office that's scheduled to include Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Al Franken and Congressman Keith Ellison.
In addition to three Twin Cities-area sites, Democrats are also opening offices in Albert Lea, Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester, Shoreview, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Virginia and Willmar.
State GOP Chairman Keith Downey held a press conference on Thursday to lay out some of his party's plans for spreading its message around Minnesota. Republicans plan to open 20 field offices, or what they are calling "victory centers," throughout Minnesota.
The party already has offices set up in Rochester, Woodbury, Mankato, St. Cloud, Marshall, Eagan, Golden Valley, Blaine, Waconia and Bloomington. Downey said the party was on track to open offices in Bemidji, Grand Rapids, North Branch, Duluth and Brainerd in the coming weeks.
For Republicans, the breadth of field offices is a significant expansion. Downey said two years ago the party had just one office in each of the state's eight congressional districts.
This year, the party needs to start its fight earlier -- Republican endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson will have to survive a four-way August primary before he could face Dayton in November.
"Every single one of these victory offices will be working to make sure that Jeff Johnson will be successful in the primary and in the general election," said Republican Party Deputy Chair Chris Fields.
WASHINGTON -- In promoting legislation that would ban convicted stalkers from purchasing firearms, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Wednesday Congress needs to be "honest and pragmatic" about tighter gun laws and she still has hope for national reform.
At an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress, Klobuchar, along with other advocates for tighter gun control, was introduced by Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly. Giffords, a former member of Congress, was shot in the head during a constituent meet and greet in her Arizona district in January 2011.
She and Kelly are now running Americans for Responsible Solutions, which advocates for tighter gun laws in states and at the federal level.
Klobuchar said she respected America's tradition of gun ownership and that she approaches stricter gun proposals with her Uncle Dick, who loves to hunt, in mind.
"I look at every bill here and say does this hurt my Uncle Dick?" she said.
She called the April 2013 failed Senate vote on expanded background checks one of the saddest days she's had in the U.S. Senate. She said she feels strongly about strengthening gun legislation for stalkers because of her days as a prosecutor, where a lot of heart-wrenching stories of abuse went untold.
"Every single day we have victims of domestic violence and stalking who then become victims of shootings," she said. "I've gotta continue my work in building Republican support on this bill."