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Minnesota now interests presidential campaigns

Hurricane Sandy has blown presidential campaigns into Minnesota.

As a storm forced President Barack Obama, challenger Mitt Romney and others to cancel East Coast campaign stops, their campaigns looked toward what some see as a newly competitive Minnesota.

Former President Bill Clinton plans Minnesota campaign stops today and rumors persisted Monday that Republican Romney or his running mate, Paul Ryan, would be in Minnesota this week. Republican officials said they could not confirm a GOP candidate visit.

Clinton is to campaign for Obama and other Democrats in Minneapolis and Duluth.

President Barack Obama's campaign indicated that Clinton will appear a week before Election Day at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus' McNamara Alumni Center. Doors are to open at 9:30 a.m., with the rally expected at 10:30 a.m.

He is to appear in the Kirby Student Center at the University of Duluth. Doors open at 12:30 p.m., it remained unclear when the event would begin.

Details of the visit remained sketchy Monday evening.

The Obama campaign site indicated that people wanting to attend the Duluth rally could fill out a form at The Minneapolis site is

Obama's campaign brushed aside talk that the Minnesota race is tightening when the Democratic incumbent had expected to be holding a larger lead.

A Star Tribune poll released during the weekend showed Obama's Minnesota lead falling to 3 percentage points after observers saying the president looked to have a solid lead. The 3 points is within the poll's margin of error.

On the other hand, a St. Cloud State University poll shows Obama holds a comfortable 13-point lead among all Minnesotans and remains 8 points ahead among those most likely to vote.

The candidates have spent most of their time in a handful of states expected to be close. But with Sandy affecting a couple of those states, campaigns turned some of their attention to other potentially tight states.

Two Minnesota neighbors, Iowa and Wisconsin, are among those swing states and have attracted lots of campaign attention. Clinton plans to visit both of those states this week, along with Colorado, Ohio, Virginia and New Hampshire.

On Monday night, Clinton scheduled a rally for U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp in Fargo, N.D.

"President Clinton's trip will include both a mix of 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," the Obama campaign reported.