Obama's next stop: Rochester, Lanesboro or Harmony?
Today as a rare treat, I'll post the Answer Man column TWO DAYS EARLY so you can check out his speculation on where the president might land next, after his Cannon Falls visit:
Dear Answer Man, if you were doing the advance work for President Obama today and you had about 15 minutes for him to stop in Rochester or somewhere else along the way to Decorah, where would you have him visit? — Blue State Babe
The possibilities are endless, Blue State Babe. I'm guessing the president's bus entourage will leave Cannon Falls at about 1 p.m. today and head south on U.S. 52, and he's due in Decorah about 5:15 p.m. That doesn't leave much margin for error, and he can't get too far away from 52, but here are made-for-TV possibilities:
• At 1:21 p.m., he could exit at Minnesota Highway 58, cross over the highway and pull into the DQ at Zumbrota. A tight fit for buses and the press crew...a more likely stop might be the McDonald's on the west side of the intersection. Even better for a main street shot -- a stop at the Coffee Mill cafe and then a quick photo op at the historic covered bridge.
• At 1:28 p.m., he could visit the work site of the someday-Elk Run biobusiness development. It's not exactly shovel-ready, but there's plenty of earth being moved right now for a highway interchange.
• At 1:33 p.m., he could view what used to be Lake Shady and call for infrastructure improvements at the Oronoco Dam.
• At 1:43 p.m., and my money is on this option: The bus exits at Civic Center Drive and pulls into Cynthia Daube's bakery, 1310 Fifth Place N.W. Alternatively, he exits at Second Street Southwest, heads east toward Mayo Clinic and stops just about anywhere — maybe for a cup of Caribou coffee in front of Saint Marys Hospital? A Chicago-style dog from a street vendor in the Peace Plaza, near the Kahler?
• At 2:05, he could make a stop in Chatfield — he just missed the Western Days whoop-de-doo, but he could grab a Chosen Valley burger from the Old Tyme Cafe, then enjoy a few minutes of shade in City Park.
• He could win points with Hispanic voters by making an easy taco stop at 2:14 p.m. at Los Gables Mexican restaurant, near Fountain.
• In Preston at 2:20 p.m., he could stop for a breath of fresh air by the ethanol plant, in keeping with his alt-fuel agenda, then run up the hill to the Branding Iron for a steak sandwich.
• At 2:25, if his driver has a lead foot, he could make a little side trip into Lanesboro, which should be every president's dream to visit, and get a messy waffle cone at the River Trail Picnic Basket shop, 100 Parkway Ave. N.
• But if he stops south of Rochester and north of the Iowa line, I'm betting it's in Harmony, at about 2:30 p.m. The place name is perfect; his staff can arrange for a few Amish buggies to be trotting through the area, and the triple-berry pie at the Village Square cafe, 51 Main Ave. N., is worth the trip from Washington, D.C.
Keep your eyes peeled, and if you see him, call the newsroom at 285-7700. Better yet, send photos and notes.