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Area DFLers eager to support Obama

As Democrats prepared to nominate President Barack Obama for a second term Crow Wing County DFLers said Wednesday they were eager to support him in the upcoming election.

Area DFLers talked about the achievements and disappointments of Obama’s first term.

“The Affordable Care Act is both,” Tiffany Stenglein, Crow Wing County DFL chair, said. “He got it through but it doesn’t go as far in some ways as many people would like. There’s no public option. But it’s a huge accomplishment.”

She noted that people now can not be denied insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions and children can stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26. She also pointed to the repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays as a plus.

“Then of course, there’s the bumper sticker: “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive and roaring,” she said.

Stenglein said the economy is improving, particularly compared to where it was when the incumbent took office.

“He started out with such a deep hole already dug,” she said. “We acknowledge that it’s not great and it’s better than it was. You can’t turn around the Titanic on a dime. Our economy is huge.”

She said Wednesday morning she was looking forward to the president’s speech, noting that even those who disagree with him acknowledge he’s a tremendous orator — a skill many would say generated considerable support for him in 2008.

“I think building that enthusiasm is going to be one of the challenges of the campaign,” Stenglein said.

Wayne Fleischhacker of rural Brainerd said he thinks the Democratic faithful are more fired up after watching the Republican National Convention and seeing the contrast of the two parties’ policies for working families.

Fleischhacker, who works for the East Central Area Labor Council and is union liaison with the Crow Wing County DFL, said he credits Obama for getting the U.S. out of one unfunded war and for working to get us out of another.

He also credits Obama for his work on the economy and blames Republicans for obstructing the president’s policies.

“Although we’ve come back a long way back in four years, he’s getting blamed because the economy isn’t peachy-keen,” Fleischhacker said.

The union official said he heard no specifics from Republicans on how they’d bring the economy back other than what he described as discredited trickle-down economics.

The first lady received favorable reviews from Fleischhacker for her Tuesday night speech.

“I think Michelle Obama did a great job connecting that Barack Obama gets what common people are looking for in this next president,” he said. “I believe he (Obama) can mix well with mainstream working families...People are scraping by and I think Barack Obama knows that and feels that and I don’t think Romney has a clue.”

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860