Obama summons ghost of Wellstone in Target Center rally

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Barack Obama, D-Ill., energized a crowd of approximately 20,000 cheering supporters at a Saturday afternoon rally in Minneapolis.

Obama focused on his message of change, saying he believed change had to come from the “bottom up,” not from Washington. And he invoked one of Minnesota’s progressive icons in the process.

“When I first got to the United State Senate I opened up the drawer, the desk drawer where I sat,” Obama said. “It had the names of some of the great senators who have served, they carved their names into the desk drawer in their own hand. One of those names was somebody who shared this belief that change doesn’t happen from the top down, a guy named Paul Wellstone.”

Obama said he was running because change was needed now, and joked that pundits had derided him as a “hopemonger.”

“They said I needed seasoning and needed to stew a little bit more, boil all the hope out of him,” he joked. “But the real gamble is the same old folks doing the same old stuff over and over again, and expecting things to be different.”

Obama also drew applause by noting that his distant cousin, Vice President Dick Cheney, would not be on the ballot in the fall.

“You hope you’re going to be related to somebody cool, Paul Wellstone, or Willie Mays…that was a disappointment,” Obama joked.

Obama thanked Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who Obama said “knew I was running for president before I did.”

The well-attended rally came just days before the Super Tuesday caucuses. Minnesota will be one of 24 states to hold a primary or caucus that day, the busiest day of the primary season.

Obama’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., will hold a rally at Augsburg College Sunday at 4 p.m.

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