Monday, November 13, 2006

Pawlenty road trip, Part III

After the debates, we loaded up the bus and headed toward Saint Cloud. Gov. Pawlenty joined us on the bus to a round of applause, thanked the group for joining him, then worked his way down the aisle, greeting each person individually for up to several minutes each. (Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau boarded the bus with us before the debate.)

When the Governor reached my seat, we briefly discussed the races in SD 43, and how our district went from three incumbent Republicans to three open seats in just a few months (David Gaither was appointed Pawlenty's chief of staff, Jeff Johnson ran for state attorney general, and Ron Abrams was appointed a judge by the Governor). I was going to thank Pawlenty personally for getting Cheri Pierson Yecke to be his commissioner of education, and for his ambitious education reform agenda, but I forgot.

The mood on the bus was relaxed and upbeat. The thirty-some aboard consisted of Pawlenty administration staff and campaign volunteers. Everyone referred to Pawlenty and Molnau as "The Governor" and "The Lieutenant Governor," or "Governor Pawlenty" and "Lieutenant Governor Molnau," but interactions and conversations with them were friendly and informal.

Keeping the figurative wheels of our cross-country motorcoach bus going 'round and 'round was an outgoing woman named "Mo," equal parts den mom, cruise director, and cheerleading captain. As we approached each campaign stop, the lights in the bus came on and Mo played CDs on the bus's great sound system with our road trip soundtrack, which included Van Morrison's "The Bright Side of the Road" and Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."

Sunday, 10:30 pm: Saint Cloud

Saint Cloud campaign stop. (c) North Star Liberty.
In Saint Cloud, we stopped at the Republican campaign headquarters. Our two "roadie" crews leapfrogged each other, setting up at every other stop, then tearing down and moving to the next stop. Every time the Pawlenty bus rolled into town, the lights were lit, microphone hot, and crowd pumped up (twenty, thirty or more at every stop, all night and into Monday) and waving signs.

At the end of the rally, I turned around and recognized none other than Saint Cloud's finest blogger and member of the Northern Alliance of Bloggers, everyone's favorite econ prof, Saint Cloud State University's own King Banaian of SCSU Scholars. He seemed surprised that I wasn't liveblogging the road trip. I am not worthy!

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