Different drives draw Minnesotans to line up for Obama's health care rally

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August 31, 2009 // UPDATED 3:36 pm - September 12, 2009
By: Amanda Kushner
Amanda Kushner

Stacey Keenan kicked off the line on a corner near Target Center at 10 p.m. Friday, anticipating President Barack Obama’s Saturday afternoon rally. She and her family spent the night on that corner in order to ensure they would have seats the next day. And during the overnight hours leading up to the event she watched one man perform magic tricks, people out on the town and she did get 3 hours of sleep.


Keenan said one reason she wanted to attend the rally is that Obama is clear and concise when he speaks, so listening to him is a better way to learn information regarding his health care proposal, the focus of his visit.


Minnesota has a model health care system, she said, referencing the Mayo Clinic, which Obama addressed in his speech as better health care at a lower cost, and other state medical establishments.


“I think Minnesota is a model for cheaper health care, more efficient and accessible like Minnesota Care,” Keenan said. Her cousin, Ebony Keenan chimed in “I think it is really awesome.”


And while not everyone got in line quite as early as the Keenan family, Saturday morning lines wound down to 3rd street only to continue by looping back around the block. And the skyway was equally as crowded as people waited to get a seat at Target Center. Those waiting to see Obama had different reasons for coming. Some wanted to see the president, others wanted to learn more about health care and many came to support the cause.


Chris Burda is an educator, and she said that it is important for Obama to come to Minnesota because the state represents a good cross-section of Midwest views.


“I want the world to see how strongly this community supports this president and his health care policy,” she said.


Eric LaCour sings to enlighten people’s hearts, and that’s what he did Saturday by singing at different spots around the block while the line was at a standstill.


“If you’re sick and you can’t get well, tell him (God) what you want. If you want some joy in your life, tell him what you want …”


LaCour is frustrated that America’s health care policy is so far behind other countries, but he said people need to understand that Obama is working to fix what is left behind.


“How come other countries can do better things than us?” he asked. “… Republicans and Democrats, we need to come together as one and do something before it is too late,”


It is important for Obama to reach out to the public, said Alicia Tran, who works in human resources.


“I think he is valuing our opinion more than any other president,” she said of his visit to Minneapolis.


But even though the audience had different reasons for attending, lines into the Target Center brought strangers together to discuss one of the nation’s hottest topics.


And following the speech, a unified crowd chanted, “fired up,” and “ready to go,” phrases Obama used to both open and close his address to Minnesotans.