Obama to visit Fargo on ThursdayFARGO - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is making his first visit to Fargo on Thursday, marking an emerging presence of his campaign across the state.
By: By Kelly Smith, The Dickinson Press
FARGO - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is making his first visit to Fargo on Thursday, marking an emerging presence of his campaign across the state.
The U.S. senator is to spend the eve of Independence Day honoring a crowd of a couple hundred veterans and mili-tary families, commemorating their work and discussing issues about veteran’s aid, said Dan Hannaher, a senior advisor for the campaign.
The invitation-only meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at The Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm on 28th Avenue North.
Hannaher said the event is to be more “conversational,” but expects Obama to return to the historically Republican state again before the November election.
“We think Sen. Obama has a good chance to prove pundits wrong,” Hannaher said. “I don’t think this will be his last visit.”
Supporters also said his visit is symbolic of an established campaign presence in the state.
“This is a full-fledged campaign North Dakota will have never seen the likes of before,” Hannaher said.
On Monday, the campaign began airing a 30-second ad statewide and 17 other states.
The campaign is also enlisting volunteers and staff to aid the already 25 campaign employees already at work across the state. Fargo is to be the campaign’s state headquarters, Hannaher said, with offices also in Grand Forks, Minot and Bismarck.
State Sen. Tim Mathern, the Democratic candidate for North Dakota governor, attended Obama’s last visit to the state in April and plans to attend Thursday.
“It’s wonderful news,” he said of the candidate coming to his hometown. “He committed early on to be active in every state. And he believes in what he says.”
But North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth argued Obama’s presence will have the opposite effect.
“His views are out of sync with North Dakota voters,” Emineth said, adding he also expects Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain to visit the state before the election.
Politics aside, the high-profile visit means extra work for area law enforcement.
Officers from the Fargo Police, Moorhead Police, West Fargo Police, Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, North Dakota Highway Patrol and North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations are to assist the U.S. Secret Service on Thursday.
“It certainly doesn’t happen every day,” Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes said. “But it’s something we’re prepared for.”
Ternes met with the Secret Service Monday to prepare for the candidate’s visit. But he shrugged off the meeting.
“We’re used to it,” he said, referring to President Bush’s visit in 2001 and again in 2005. “We have a good working relationship with the Secret Service.”
He said about 10 Fargo officers are to assist with traffic control and the motorcade.
With extra officers on duty, unexpected expenses for the city are likely, but Ternes said they will minimize costs as much as they can.
Grand Forks reported spending more than $30,000 on dual visits by Obama and Hillary Clinton in April. But Ternes said the Fargo’s costs shouldn’t come close to that.
Obama’s organizers expect a relatively small gathering, which Hannaher said is indicative of Obama’s values.
“It shows how seriously he takes (veteran’s) commitment,” he said. “It’s really an honor to have the next president visiting before July 4.”