Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

2/24/2005

Day Two: Surprises Galore!

Sorry for the lack of photoblogging folks---out of range to send anything. A flood of fuzzy picture phone pics await on Friday (plus some good old fashioned regular photos to be developed).

EARLY TO RISE

Mark Kennedy's pronouncement yesterday to press secretary Heidi Frederickson (Editor's Note: I think Heidi will appreciate me changing her name from "Frickerson" to Frederickson) seemed intent on coming true: "I think you're trying to kill me."

Morning at the Kennedy Compound began for Congressman and Mrs. Kennedy with a faulty cell phone alarm clock, waking them at 3:30am. Kennedy rose for good not much later, taking radio phone calls at 6:10 and 6:20 for WCCO and a local radio station. With not much time to chat, Kennedy rushed to the gas station where he worked as a boy (and babysat the current owner). He spent the morning reliving his youth pumping gas, washing windows and checking people's oil. As volunteers waved signs to welcome people in, onlookers were astonished to see a sitting Congressman offer to put their gas. Heidi Frederickson remarked, "We should do this again---in June."

Back on the bus, Debbie Kennedy staves off lack of sleep and the boredom of the road with knitting while husband continues on a breakneck pace with phone calls. "We may not get much sleep," Kennedy says, "but we have a lot of fun." On board, Kennedy suggests the name that will finally settle the DvK nightmare: Kennedy v. BYOD: Bring Your Own Democrat. (Editor's Note: we will throw it in the mix.)

BUTTERBURGERS

Stopping at a Culver's in Brainerd, the Congressman and company are welcomed by a flashing sign with Kennedy's name on it and 20+ people in attendence. News media have followed including a reporter/slash blogger who knows DvK and The First Ring. Conservative Loon gives me his card and goes on to report Kennedy's speech. I'm quickly becoming the second-most introduced person at these events---and many people know DvK. One woman grabs me and says, "I don't care how much bad press you people [bloggers] get---you're great! You're all great!" Not all are convinced. "A log? A grog?", one woman asks. Obviously the work of the blogosphere isn't done yet. (Editor's Note: blogger groupies? I gotta take some PTO.)

Kennedy is introduced by his brother David, the "younger, more attractive brother", David jokes. As Kennedy goes into his stump speech for the first time, it's clear he's improved even from yesterday. He's crisper and more lively. And he knows his material even better. He refers to the violence in Iraq like plane crashes: "you never hear about the safe landings." And he answers many values questions---gay marriage, partial birth abortion and TV programming.

KIND WORDS FROM AND FOR GRAMS

Kennedy and Debbie sit on for a radio interview on KSKK 94.7 in quaint downtown Wadena. "You're talking to a friendly," the host Dave Lee tells Kennedy. Lee loves Kennedy's common sense talk and Kennedy talks about the nation of Jordan's young population and how without an outlet for unemployment, terrorism in that country will grow. Lee mentions Rod Grams stopping by the office and said that Grams "spoke highly" of Kennedy and called him "a good friend." If only all opponents were like this. Kennedy returns the honor by speaking well of Grams.

Another radio station later (just down the street from KSKK), Kennedy enters the Boondocks Cafe to meet and greet voters. Mostly the blue haired crowd, the reception is warm until Kennedy meets a woman who strongly disagrees with his "junk lawsuit" comment, a staple of his stump speech. She's lost a relative in what could have fallen under Kennedy's junk lawsuit guidelines. She's obviously upset but Kennedy talks with her long enough to get her to acknowledge he's "a nice man."

LESS T.R., MORE BIO

The unofficial theme of the campaign, "It's A Small World After All" comes into play in Detroit Lakes with the local newspaper. The editor lives in Debbie's parents old farm. Kennedy, Debbie and the editor begin swapping rural tales and stories of small towns from Minnesota to both Dakotas. Back on the bus, Heidi shows her mettle by gentle helping Kennedy reshape and refine his speech. Less Teddy Roosevelt references, less on education, more on background. And like all campaigns, they're concerned about the message on Social Security. NPR and MPR "are competing to see which one can get me on Social Security first," Kennedy jokes.

From the fire into the Fryn' Pan in Moorhead. 30 or more people await Kennedy including a TV crew from WDAY 6, the local ABC station. At the event, Kennedy strongly declares "Social Security will never be privatized," bringing a mixture of relieved and confused looks. Kennedy goes to say he feels the term is a "scare tactic" designed to go after people's fears. Personal accounts may be involved, but it will never become a total private program.

WETTERLING OUT

On the bus, the campaign receives it's biggest surprise. Patty Wetterling is going to announce she's not running for anything tomorrow. Nothing. Nada. Zip. The news begins a debate on who Kennedy's toughest opponent would be, Klobuchar or Ciresi. Kennedy goes into detail instead of the usual "not worried about my opponents" line, but doesn't seem overly concerned about either of them. He's used to getting an early start. He did in the same in his first congressional campaign in 2000, getting started in June of 1999. By the end of the campaign, "people actually thought I was running for reelection." And Kennedy is confident it will happen again. The campaign revels in one tradition: no one who has run against them has run for office again. If Wetterling's announcement news is accurate, that will hold true for the time being. (Editor's Note: It's straight from DFL Chair Mike Erlandson's mouth.)

The hour is getting late and there's another big day ahead for the Kennedy campaign and company. More details on the rest of Day Two tomorrow as well as pictures, Day Three news and a complete wrap-up this weekend. Stay tuned!

--Posted by The First Ringer

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