Unlike its neighbor to the south, Iowa, Rochester has never been spoiled by presidential visits.
You can count them on two hands.
Here’s a list:
August 2011: President Barack Obama has lunch in Cannon Falls and pie in Zumbrota. When one 8-year-old girl asked Obama “why Cannon Falls?” the Democratic president replied: “I had heard that Cannon Falls has some of the smartest, best-looking kids around, and you have just confirmed the rumor about Cannon Falls.”
September, October 2004: It was the best of times for Rochester, politically. The city couldn’t get enough love from presidential candidates. President George W. Bush made two stops in Rochester during a two-month period, first at Mayo Field and then later in a hangar at Rochester International Airport. “I kind of like to spend an afternoon in the ballpark,” Bush told the crowd. Sen. John Kerry also came twice. He lost.
October 2002: President Bush stumped for Norm Coleman, the former Mayor of St. Paul who was running against then-Democratic incumbent, Sen. Paul Wellstone. A week later, Wellstone, along with seven others, died in an airplane crash. Coleman was elected to the Senate.
November 1990: President George H.W. Bush, W’s dad, visited Rochester to support the re-election of U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, who lost his seat to Wellstone that November.
November 1984: President Reagan paid a brief campaign visit at Rochester International Airport days before the 1984 election. It was a Sunday morning. Reagan got off the plane, held a press conference and took off to four more years.
October 1978: President Jimmy Carter swung through Rochester, accompanied by Gov. Rudy Perpich and Vice President Walter Mondale. Carter spoke at a rally at the Rochester airport.
1970: President Richard Nixon spoke at Mayo Civic Center to campaign for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Clark MacGregor, who lost to Democrat Hubert Humphrey. Nixon also stumped for GOP gubernatorial candidate Douglas Head, who lost to DFLer Wendell Anderson.
October 1948: President Harry Truman pulled into Rochester as part of his coast-to-coast “whistle-stop” campaign. In his remarks, he renewed his call for a national health insurance system. Some things never change. “I wish the whole nation could have the opportunity to enjoy the kind of medical care that is available here in Rochester. Unfortunately, we haven’t reached that point yet.”
1934: President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed through Rochester to honor the Mayo brothers, William J. and Charles H. Mayo, with American Legion Awards. If newspaper reports are to be believed — there was no fake news at the time — 125,000 people attended the event at Soldiers Memorial Field, including nearly all of the 25,000 people who lived in the city at the time.