MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With polls showing a very close presidential race showing, Hillary Clinton’s campaign brought Bernie Sanders to Minnesota Tuesday to encourage his supporters to back her.

Sanders campaigned at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, and then traveled to the University of Minnesota Duluth.

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He crushed Clinton in Minnesota’s caucus last winter 62 to 38 percent — a win fueled largely by younger voters.

Minnesota Republicans say Sanders’ visit shows just how concerned the Democrats are about Minnesota.

Bernie Sanders (credit: CBS)

Bernie Sanders (credit: CBS)

“Nationally the state of Minnesota is still a steal state. We’re not a targeted state with a bunch of money coming in on behalf of the Trump campaign,” Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey said. “Clearly it’s a state that the Democrats are having to pay attention to and spend a lot of resources to try and defend.”

The Clinton campaign is concerned, especially about younger voters. Sanders captivated them, including those in Minnesota, for championing issues like free tuition at public colleges and universities.

But recent polls show voters under 30 are lukewarm to Clinton. WCCO asked Sanders about this point before the U of M rally.

“This is an enormously important election,” Sanders said. “In my view, Donald Trump is probably the least prepared candidate for president in the modern history of this country.”

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He also gave a shout-out to his Minnesota supporters.

“Let me thank the people of Minnesota. I very much appreciate the support they gave me,” he said.

Sanders got a rock star welcome at the auditorium, and he pleaded with the young crowd to back his one-time rival.

“There is one candidate who believes that the wealthy should start paying their fair share of taxes, and that is Hillary Clinton,” Sanders said.

But with polls showing that many voters under 30 are thinking about supporting a third-party presidential candidate, it is not clear if Sanders can deliver his supporters to Clinton.

“Some of the stuff she says I don’t agree with, so it’s kind of 50-50 for me,” said Olivia Richardson, a reluctant Clinton supporter.

And the Clinton campaign is clearly not taking chances on Minnesota, a state that has not voted for a Republican in the presidential race since 1972. The Clinton campaign announced Tuesday afternoon that Chelsea Clinton will campaign in Minnesota on Thursday for her mother.

There are a number of indications that internal polls show that Trump is doing extremely well in the 8th Congressional District, which includes Duluth and the Iron Range — both traditional DFL strongholds.

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The implications go beyond the presidential race. If Trump does well in the 8th, it could help Republican challenger Stewart Mills in his bid to beat Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan.

Esme Murphy