Bill Clinton at U of M, Paul Ryan in Hudson, Wis.

Bill Clinton, Paul Ryan in Twin Cities metro as candidates focus on Sandy relief

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Hurricane Sandy has taken both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney off the campaign trail, putting the greater Twin Cities metro in the spotlight one week from Election Day.

Obama did not campaign on Tuesday and canceled all the events he had planned for Wednesday in order to focus on the response to Sandy, and the storm has led to some campaign adaptations in both camps.

Former President Bill Clinton has stepped in as a sort of presidential proxy for Obama, holding a rally before about 1,800 people at the University of Minnesota campus Tuesday morning. He also planned to make a stop in Duluth, Minn., before traveling to Colorado.

Doors opened at 9:30 a.m. for the U of M rally at the McNamara Alumni Center, and though an Obama spokesman said Clinton's purpose was to energize the base and recharge the batteries of volunteers, he had a very clear message for voters at large about Romney's plan to create 12 million jobs.

"Now, I am sure it is just a coincidence, but two independent business analysts -- Moody's and Micro Economic Advisors -- say if we don't mess up what's already been done, America will produce 12 million jobs in the next for years," he said.

Campaign operatives have come to call Clinton the "explainer in chief," and they say it's possible that there could be more campaign stops scheduled in the Twin Cities. After all, Clinton's visit was put together in just the past 36 hours.

Just across the border in Hudson, Wis., Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan met with campaign volunteers to help with Sandy disaster relief on Tuesday.

The Republican Party of St. Croix County organized the disaster relief effort, which got underway at 4 p.m. at the Hudson Victory Center, located at 213 2nd Street.

Supplies needed include:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Cases of bottled water
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • First aid kits
  • Baby supplies (diapers, wipes, formula, bottles)
  • Dog supplies (Dog food, collars, leashes)

"Our volunteers are amazing. They've done a wonderful job in staying focused and staying energized," said Jesse Garza, chair of the party in St. Croix County. "This just kind of gives us a last boost before the election next Tuesday."

Garza admitted that after the recall elections, he had been concerned about the morale among volunteers; however, he said they have stepped up to the plate and are continuing to go to bat for the Romney-Ryan ticket.

Both Clinton and Paul were scheduled to be in other places before the storm struck, but their respective campaigns decided to move their efforts inland as Sandy approached. The strategy for campaign scheduling has become fluid ever since.

In fact, at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday, the Obama campaign announced that Clinton would be returning to Wisconsin on Wednesday. He'll be in Eau Claire, but no other details have yet been released.

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