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American Legion To Host President For Mpls. Convention

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Remember when visits from President Barack Obama were few and far between?

Now, the president is making two trips to Minnesota within weeks. He visited Cannon Falls, Minn., on Aug. 15, and he is coming to Minneapolis Tuesday to address the American Legion’s annual convention.

Ten thousand American Legion members and their families have already gathered for the convention, which is being held in downtown Minneapolis.

As commander and chief of the armed forces, the president always gets an invitation.

Whether they disagree with his policies or not, the president will be met by the veterans with respect, said Jim Casey, a Legion member and veteran.

“He will get a fantastic reception,” Casey said. “He is our president.”

But not all veterans hold the president in such high esteem.

“I think he has got an uphill battle,” said Melvin Roy, a veteran.

The president’s pitch to veterans comes at a critical time. Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey Institute said many veterans and other Americans feel that Obama hasn’t delivered on the jobs front.

“He is coming here to put himself on the front lines of the fight to create jobs,” Jacobs said.

Recent veterans have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. In Minnesota, the unemployment rate for veterans is 23 percent, which is three times the state average. Those statistics have some Legion members thinking that the president isn’t focused on helping them.

“We have guys coming home from the service … who can’t get a job,” said Richard Keiser, a veteran.

Other veterans said the president deserves credit for incentives he announced this summer for businesses that hire veterans.

“He has done well with the veterans, he has increased money to the veterans hospitals,” said Jim Casey, a veteran.

As for the president’s two visits to Minnesota in just over two weeks, it’s proof that Minnesota is in play in Obama’s mind, Jacobs said.

“It’s a sign of Minnesota as one of the key swing states as we head into the 2012 presidential election season,” he said.

The president is scheduled to make his speech to the Legion at 11 a.m. at the Air National Guard at Twin Cities International. So if you think you will be driving from the airport around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, the interstates will almost certainly be shut down around then to make way for the presidential motorcade.

Later in the week Michele Bachmann will be addressing the Legion convention.

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