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DFLers say 'we are greater than fear' in final Rochester campaign stop

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Congressman Tim Walz, who is running for governor, speaks during a DFL GOTV Bus Tour stop Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, at the DFL Action Center in Rochester.
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A caravan of DFL candidates stopped Thursday in Rochester to make their final pitches, framing an election only days away as a choice between a DFL vision of hope and inclusion and a GOP one of fear and division.

"I think there’s going to be a day in the future where questions are going to be asked: Who were the people who stood in this time of division and said, ‘We are greater than fear,’" said DFL gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz.

The rally was packed with supporters who spilled out of the DFL Action Center in Northeast Rochester, requiring speakers to be set up outside so people could hear the speeches being given from within.

In addition to Walz, the event was headlined by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Dan Feehan for Congress, Steve Simon for secretary of state, Julie Blaha for state auditor, Peggy Flanagan for lieutenant governor and a half dozen candidates for the state House.

"It smells and feels like Democracy," Flanagan said to a crowd packed in like sardines.

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While President Donald Trump’s name was never once spoken — nor that of any Minnesota Republican candidate — DFL candidates repeatedly struck a message of can-do hopefulness compared to the fears and dark vision they said were being peddled by the GOP.

Walz made the contrast more explicit in his speech.

"As they make their closing arguments, telling us to be fearful of people fleeing war or oppression, telling us to be fearful of our neighbors, telling us to be worried about things in the night, they misunderstand: Minnesotans don’t fear the future, they create the future," Walz said.

For the last several days, Trump has sought to portray a foot-borne migrant caravan trekking north through Mexico as an imminent invasion of the U.S. southern border. He has threatened to send 15,000 troops, a deployment equal to the size of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. The caravan, according to reports, remains hundreds of miles away.

The DFL event came a day after Republicans made their closing arguments in Rochester at a tamer, much less well-attended news conference at the Olmsted County Government Center. It featured gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson, Secretary of State candidate John Howe and area legislators, but it lacked the fired-up feel and large gathering of the DFL event.

DFL candidates cautioned supporters against growing complacent in the belief that a "blue wave" was imminent — the idea that Democrats will sweep into office on a tidal wave of support.

"We know that blue waves don’t just happen," said U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, who is running to fill out the term of Al Franken, who resigned last year. "Blue waves happen because of the hard work of individuals."

Walz predicted the election would affirm Minnesota as a place where "every child, black, white, brown or indigenous, gets a quality education;" access to basic health care is considered a human right; and action on combating climate charge would make the state a leader in creating a carbon-free future.

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Many eyes on election night will be focused on the battle for the 1st Congressional seat between Feehan and GOP candidate Jim Hagedorn. Polls show the race to be a statistical dead head.

On Thursday, Klobuchar was one of Feehan’s biggest cheerleaders.

"We need to elect people who are going to bring people together and not divide them," Klobuchar said.

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