CANNON FALLS, Minn. (WCCO) — President Obama will begin a 3-day bus tour with his first stop in the small Minnesota town of Cannon Falls. The town is home to about 4,000 people and is located just south of the Twin Cities.
The president is scheduled to host a town hall-style meeting Monday morning about the economy and jobs.
On Sunday afternoon, White House staff members handed out 500 tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis. People showed up in numbers, from all over the state, waiting for what they called a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Laura Schneider is a Cannon Falls-native who says the long wait to snag one of the tickets was well worth it.
“We first came at 1:30 (in the morning) and they were shooing people away, so we came back at 4,” Schneider said. “We’re a small town, kind of in the middle of nowhere and it really makes a big statement that he doesn’t just care about the big cities in the East and the West Coast.”
Most of the small town says they welcome the president with open arms as evidenced by signs around town saying things like, “Mr. Obama, have a burger on us.”
There are some who say they question if there isn’t more to the tour than simply talking economy.
“I believe its part of the political campaign and we’re paying for it,” Cannon Falls-native Steve Anderson said.
Some say they think the recent troubles in Washington make it a tough time for the president to travel to town halls.
“I think it’s the whole financial mess that occurred … If other people would’ve been president, maybe things would’ve been different,” said St. Paul resident Mark Mongiat.
Others beg to differ.
“As a whole, I think it’s actually going much better than the general public is giving him credit for. He came in at a really difficult time and I think he’s been incredibly professional,” Schneider said.
The president is expected to speak just before noon Monday.
WCCO-TV also spoke to members of the North Star Tea Party Patriots who say they are planning on hosting a rally Monday morning before the president speaks in Cannon Falls.
Monday’s visit is surprisingly not the first presidential visit for the small town. In 1928, the town played host to President Calvin Coolidge.