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'Gotta Vote' tour visits DL

The Gotta Vote tour bus came to La Barista in Detroit Lakes Tuesday morning. Photo by - Paula Quam1 / 2
A round table discussion of DFL talking points. At the head of the table was Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto and State Representative Terry Morrow. Photo by - Paula Quam2 / 2

Detroit Lakes area Democrats are a little more charged up this week after the grassroots group Obama for America brought its "Gotta Vote" Minnesota RV tour to the area.

Detroit Lakes is one of 42 stops along the week-long tour aimed at not only getting out the vote, "but oh, by the way, vote for President Barack Obama," said Kristin Sosanie, the communication director for the tour. Sosanie says several state leaders such as U.S. Senators Amy Klubuchar and Al Franken are hopping on and off the bus as it travels.

As it pulled into downtown Detroit Lakes Tuesday morning, local democrats were greeted by State Auditor Rebecca Otto and State Representative Terry Morrow (from the St. Peter area) at La Barista Coffee Shop.

"Well, I think we had you at hello," Morrow joked as he began chatting with the group of Democrats sporting campaign buttons and sipping on coffee.

The idea of the visit wasn't to sway these voters, but to give them talking points and motivation as they spread their grassroots efforts in the area -- talking points like equal pay for women, jobs and energy.

"The enthusiasm is huge," said Sosanie, "Minnesota isn't exactly a battleground state, but we do have close elections here, and we saw in 2010 what a lack of enthusiasm and low turnout can do, and so we're making sure that people continue to get engaged and get excited."

And fresh off of Monday night's debate, the group had plenty to talk about.

Morrow says he believes the fate of the election lies with the economy.

"It's everything from what's happened at the state level with property taxes, cuts to higher education..." said Morrow, "and when we're talking about jobs we're talking about schools because aside from natural resources, we've got a strong economy relative to everyone else because of education."

For Morrow that means more Pell grants, and retraining the work force to fit the needs of today, including a more sophisticated era of manufacturing like what is seen in the Detroit Lakes area.

And when it came to the topic of jobs, Morrow says he believes Obama will help small business thrive instead of relying on "trickle down economic policies that don't help."

"They are the job creators right behind that counter," said Morrow, pointing to La Barista Owners Brooke and Courtney Wenzel, "Those are the people we should be trying to help."

Otto says she also watched the presidential debate Monday night and things just don't add up for the state auditor.

"Math," said Otto, "It's a great subject. But when I listened to that debate last night, Gov. Romney just could not lay out the math for us. He was a major corporate guy. He knows how to do math, and he won't tell us, and so that's a real issue, isn't it?"

Democrats at this Gotta Vote event all agreed that the economy should be grown from the middle out and believe President Obama has been on track to slowly improve things.

"We are the middle class," said Audubon DFLer Carmen Walter, "and I think things are getting better for us. We have a flea market outside of Detroit Lakes that a couple of years ago it was slow -- nobody was spending, but now it's crowded again and people are spending."

With regards to taxes, these Democrats didn't mince words when it comes to the stark differences between the candidates' plans.

"I'm with Obama," said Detroit Lakes Democrat Dave Erickson, a leader in the Becker County DFL. "Let the top 1 percent help out a little bit more -- it won't crush us; we won't even feel it."

The Gotta Vote Tour runs from Oct. 22-29; Minnesotans can follow the progress of the tour at