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Clinton's visit follows poll numbers that show Mitt Romney gaining on President Barack Obama in Minnesota.

Bill Clinton to campaign for Obama in Minneapolis, Duluth

Former President Bill Clinton will use two Minnesota events to launch a nationwide campaign tour.

Bill Clinton will kick off a nationwide tour on behalf of President Barack Obama with a pair of events in Minnesota tomorrow. Clinton will speak at two events, first in Minneapolis and then in Duluth.

Clinton’s plans were announced in a press release from the Obama for America campaign, which explained that the former president would be hitting the trail in “battleground states, where he will continue to lay out the choice for the American people in this election, and states with strong Democratic bases, where he will fire up supporters and urge them to help get out the vote for President Obama.”

After Minnesota, Clinton will be zigzagging through Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, according to the release. The statement does not make a distinction between which states are “Democratic bases” and which are “battleground states,” but aside from Minnesota, each of the other six states on Clinton’s agenda is considered a “toss-up” by the Cook Political Report.

For the moment, Minnesota’s status in the presidential race is the subject of much debate. Over the weekend, the latest version of the Star Tribune’s Minnesota Poll found Obama just three points ahead of Republican candidate Mitt Romney in Minnesota, with 47 percent of likely voters supporting the president and 44 percent favoring his challenger. With those numbers, a Romney victory is within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error. The survey drew a tepid reaction from New York Times polling analyst Nate Silver, who pointed out that Mason-Dixon, the polling firm contracted for the Minnesota Poll, had tended to favor Republican candidates during the 2010 campaign.

Likewise, the Obama camp played down any recent surges for Romney in states like Minnesota. The attempts to draw focus to those states was the result of spin from the Romney campaign, Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters on a Monday morning conference call.

“The Romney campaign wants you to think it’s expanding the map,” Messina said. “But it’s not.”

Republican Party of Minnesota chairman Pat Shortridge also seemed ready to put Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes up for grabs, telling Minnesota Public Radio that Clinton’s visit was an indication that Obama was nervous about losing in Minnesota, a state he won by 10 points in 2008.

“If it’s not a competitive race, I would simply ask ‘Why are they sending President Clinton, their most popular politician to Minnesota on Tuesday?'” Shortridge said. “Clearly, they have any number of places they could be sending him, yet they choose to send him to Minnesota.”

The Minnesota Daily reports that Clinton will speak at the McNamara Alumni Center at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. Details and exact location are not yet available for his appearance in Duluth, where Clinton’s presence could offer a late boost to 8th District DFL Congressional candidate Rick Nolan.

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