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Kerry tries to repel Bush in Minnesota
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Democratic presidential hopeful Senator John Kerry (D-MA) (R) greets a couple of fellow Vietnam vets after delivering a speech at Westminster College on Friday in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, is due in Twin Cities Monday evening for series of fundraisers at the Minneapolis Convention Center. His visit comes on the heels of one by President Bush, in a state that appears to be a swing state in the November election.

St. Paul, Minn. — John Kerry's campaign officials say the Democrat hopes to raise $1/2 million in Minneapolis for his campaign. Kerry will also be raising money for the Democratic National Committee while he's in town.

The Kerry campaign fundraisers include a reception open to "patrons" at $2,000 apiece and "citizen soldiers" at $1,000 each. General admission for the main Kerry campaign event is $75. Students get in for $35.

The Democratic National Committee is hosting a fundraiser dessert after the Kerry campaign events and expects to raise another $250,000.

"This visit is really one that's targeted at helping to raise the resources for this campaign and motivate the base which I don't think could be any more motivated and you know in reality while you love to see you're candidate here in Minnesota, part of me hopes that we don't see tons of John Kerry because that means we have things well in hand here in Minnesota," according to Mike Erlandson, the chairman of the Minnesota DFL.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won Minnesota by less than 3 percentage points. State Republican leaders say that close race shows Minnesota is shifting toward the GOP. Democrats say Ralph Nader's 5-percent showing four years ago made the Minnesota race look closer than it was.

A Star Tribune Minnesota Poll surveyed likely voters at the end of March and gave Kerry a 12-point lead over President Bush. But the Kerry campaign is downplaying that spread.

Kerry's Minnesota campaign director, Ken Martin, says he expects the gap between Kerry and Bush will narrow as the election approaches. And Martin says Nader, who's running as an Independent this time, will be a factor.

"Part of our challenge as a campaign is to reach out to as many Green Party members and Independents and let them know that the stakes are extremely high this time," he said.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's "Advertising Project," through late March the Bush campaign dramatically outspent the Kerry campaign on TV ads; $652,000 to Kerry's $135,000.

Early last month the Bush-Cheney campaign opened it's Minnesota headquarters in the Energy Park area of St. Paul. Martin says the Kerry campaign plans to begin opening offices in Minnesota later this month.

Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, who was elected two years ago with President's Bush's help, is traveling the nation on behalf of the Bush-Cheney campaign. Coleman says Kerry's record on many issues may work against the Massachusetts senator in Minnesota.

"It's about the issues. Minnesotans want to grow jobs. They understand that you don't grow jobs by more government programs and simply more spending. Minnesotans want strong national defense. The president is there and he's been there and Sen. Kerry has a record of voting against most of the equipment our folks have been using in Iraq," Coleman said.

But Ken Martin, says Kerry is in step with Minnesota voters on the issues, from the environment to education, and foreign policy.

Martin suggests, if Kerry has a problem, it might be his image. He acknowledges Kerry hardly comes off as a regular guy on TV. He says that's why personal appearances like today's are so important as Kerry tries to win over undecided Minnesotans.

"John Kerry is definitely not the kind of guy that people see through the TV and feel compelled to go out and vote for, so part of the challenge is appealing to those swing voters in a way to make John Kerry more likeable and appealable and we do that by putting his face out there as much as possible."

This evening's visit to Minnesota will be John Kerry's third stop in the state as a presidential candidate.

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