LIVE BLOG: VP Joe Biden at Hibbing Community College

Vice President Joe Biden with Rep. Rick Nolan at Hibbing Community College on Oct. 23, 2014 (PHOTO: Kendal Killian, Nolan campaign)

Vice President Joe Biden with Rep. Rick Nolan at Hibbing Community College on Oct. 23, 2014 (PHOTO: Kendal Killian, Nolan campaign)


Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Hibbing Community College on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range today, Oct. 23, 2014, in a “get out the vote” campaign rally for U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8). The event begins at about 2 p.m. I’ll provide live blog coverage here with the help of students at the college who were granted press access

This is the first appearance by a sitting vice president or president at HCC. A dozen or more security and logistics personnel have been on campus all week in preparation for Biden’s arrival.


3:20 p.m.: Someone just saw a secret service agent take a selfie with the bomb dog. Biden is working the rope line. And I hear the clouds are parting so you go catch the solar eclipse. Truly, an unusual day at Hibbing Community College. Thanks for following along.

3:06: “We need to stand up and holler for what we are for! Stand up for what we believe and let the people choose.”

3:03 p.m.: Biden’s speech built for listening, not necessarily rah-rah. Appealing to sense of tradition and hope for future. Citing many reports on the strain on middle class and increase in American productivity. We’re at a college, and it feels like Biden is in teaching mode.

2:59 p.m.: We win this if we show up. We’re told that America is so divided. America isn’t divided. For the first time in my memory, the American people are in agreement 54 percent on the issues we stand for. [Republicans] are anti-government. They oppose everything.”

2:56 p.m.: Biden puts in a zinger on Mills. Says he finds it “personally offensive” how wealthy money managers have concentrated wealth and avoided taxes, putting the burden on working people. A riff on line Democrats had used against Mills earlier in the cycle when Mills had said that he was personally offended that Democrats voted to tax the wealthy at higher rates.

Biden returned to phrase later. “Only 12 percent of the workers who would benefit from raising minimum wage are under the age of 20. It puts 19 billion dollars into the economy.”

“It’s time to restore this bargain that worked so well with this country, [that if you work you get ahead], that Rick has stood up for.”

2:49 p.m.:

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Hibbing Community College on Oct. 23, 2014, in support of Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8). (PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown).

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Hibbing Community College on Oct. 23, 2014, in support of Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8). “The fibers of the middle class are being pulled apart,” he said, saying that Rick Nolan is the candidate who has been part of the solution. (PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown).

2:38 p.m.: Biden — “Middle class means if your kids do well in school they can go to college, and if they go to college they can afford it. These days it’s hard to stay in the middle class.”

“No one should have to sit at the kitchen table and say, how can I tell Mary, or Billy, they I can’t afford for them to go back to the community college. I can’t afford it.”

2:33 p.m.: Vice President Biden opens with a shout-out to former Gov. Wendell Anderson. “Glad I didn’t play hockey against him.” Said he’s been here before with Sens. Humphrey and Mondale. “Always admire what I see in the people up here.”

“It’s more than just a living, it’s a culture, it’s a community.”

2:29 p.m.: Vice President Biden about to take the stage. Nolan introducing him. “Joe knows how important these community colleges are, and how important they are on helping people move up the ladder of success.”

2:23 p.m.: Nolan — “We’ve proven we can have both jobs and protect the environment. Our opponent wants to do away with that.” Later, “This comes down to whether you want to give more to those who already have enough or stand up for the Middle Class.”

2:16 p.m.: Nolan is referring to his Green Party opponent and his Tea Party opponent. Trying to cast self as middle option. Says he doesn’t like the version of himself shown on the negative ads, either. “You know me. You know what I stand for.” Decries negative ads as misleading, and says he doesn’t believe KSTP poll, either.

2:11 p.m.: Nolan: “Our opponents either want to do away with mining or do away with all our environmental regulations. We know we’ve got the brains and the technology to mine and protect the Great Outdoors.”

2:05 p.m.: Nolan speaking now: “It’s about having a good-paying job with living wages, being able to provide health care for your family, affording to educate your children, knowing that there’ll be a little money left over at the end of the week. That’s what the American Dream is about and that is what we’ve fought for since you elected me two years ago.”

2:00 p.m.: 2 on the nose, Joe Biden and Rick Nolan are on the stage!

Rep. Rick Nolan speaks with Vice President Joe Biden on stage at Hibbing Community College (PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown)

Rep. Rick Nolan speaks with Vice President Joe Biden on stage at Hibbing Community College (PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown)

1:55 p.m.: We’ve got a long pause here. Rick Nolan campaign manager Kendal Killian tells me there are about 600-700 people here. It’s an intimate space, so there’s quite a buzz. A little bit of gym floor visible in front of the press risers, though.

1:44 p.m.: (From Sara Wedell): This is pretty cool and interesting. Its different seeing all the security around here at Hibbing Community College. its normally pretty quiet. I think it’s also cool that I get to hear the vice president speak along with a few other important people. I’m not used to experiences like this. Its all interesting and new to me.

1:35 p.m.: Bois Fort drum group on stage now doing traditional drum and dance number. A good reminder that support from Northern Minnesota Chippewa bands a major part of DFL coalition in the Eighth District.

PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown

PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown

I was told capacity for this event was 1,400 people. I’m not a great estimator of crowd size, but it would appear we’re under that, probably fewer than 1,000 people here. People still trickling in, though.

1:32 p.m.: The speeches are very short. Metsa says Biden is on the way.

1:30 p.m.: Rep. Jason Metsa is up now. The program is absolutely humming. Strong chance that the vice president will actually be on time. “We know how to turn up the heat, and the pressure. We know how to turn out the vote,” he said.

1:28 p.m.:

IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich (PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown)

IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich (PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown)

Former State Rep. and current IRRRB commissioner Tony Sertich is speaking now. Says he got the call to speak last night when he was watching “American Horror Show.” No, not the show. The political ads on TV.

“Joe Biden reminds me of the Iron Range. He stands up for the little guy. All of us here have the authority to make [VP Biden] an honorary Iron Ranger.” Unanimous vote of approval.

2:08 p.m.: Nolan cites his work to advance mining projects on the Range quite vocally, says people are working together to make these things happen. Says EPA regulators in Chicago said he was the only congressman who ever visited them.

1:20 p.m.: We’re underway with Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) opening the program. “This year, we see two very different visions for the future of Northern Minnesota.” Ends with one side of crowd chanting “Fired up” and the other chanting “Ready for Rick.”

1:19 p.m.: (From Valerie Sandstrom): I’ve never been to a political event like this before! It’s not every day a Vice President comes to little old Hibbing, Minnesota. All of the security milling about is crazy! It’s odd to think that there are this many people looking out for one single person (I can’t imagine what it would be like to be that person). The funny thing is, this is actually on the smaller scale for Joe Biden and is completely normal for him. Can’t wait for him to get here!

1:05 p.m.: As you might expect, Stewart Mills has released a statement about the Rick Nolan rally with Vice President Biden:

“It’s no surprise that Washington DC insider Rick Nolan would campaign with Vice President Joe Biden, second in charge of the Obama administration that’s been failing our part of Minnesota for six years,” said Mills. “Biden and Nolan see eye to eye on so many issues, but what they don’t get is that those issues are completely out of touch with our Minnesota way of life.”

“From their enthusiastic support for Obamacare to their NRA F ratings and embarrassing records on the 2nd Amendment, Joe Biden and Rick Nolan are completely wrong for the 8th District,” continued Mills. “Even further, Joe Biden has voted at least 20 times for policies that would target the mining industry, but Rick Nolan seriously thinks the Vice President is a friend to our Iron Range families.”

The crowd gathers before the event. The line to get in to see Vice President Joe Biden stretched out the college 25th St. entrance into the ballfields outside.

The crowd gathers before the event. The line to get in to see Vice President Joe Biden stretched out the college 25th St. entrance into the ballfields outside.

 12:55 p.m.:

HCC's "news team" for the Joe Biden visit. (L to R) Travis Kutzler, Dustin Wittstruck, myself, Valerie Sandstorm and Sara Wedell.

HCC’s “news team” for Vice President Joe Biden’s Oct. 23, 2014  visit. (L to R) Travis Kutzler, Dustin Wittstruck, myself, Valerie Sandstorm and Sara Wedell.

Here I am with the HCC “news team,” including Travis Kutzler, Dustin Wittstruck, myself, Valerie Sandstrom and Sara Wed ell. Brittany and Hailey Jacobson are also keeping an eye on things in the crowd. I’ll be asking the students to kick in a few thoughts as we watch the events today.

12:30 p.m.: I’m checked in with several of my students with our press credentials. It’s a who’s who of Iron Range and Duluth media, and the college gymnasium already feels cramped.


  1. mike simpkins says

    Thanks for providing this service for those who can’t attend. It looks like your students are having quite the experience. Nothing like a political rally on the Range!

  2. Mary or Billy are American names that no one names their kids anymore. I laughed at whoever got paid for that speech writing. Haha

  3. Joanne Bergman says

    Glad I knew where to look when I needed the full story of Joe Biden visiting Aaron Brown. Many thanks!

  4. I try to keep up with what’s happening on the Range and I didn’t even know ole Joe was coming to Hibbing. Not a fan of Biden and his boss but understand how the young folks feel. I was a long haired liberal in the 60’s, wanted to believe in a political party that would make everything better for everyone. I grew up and realized you are responsible for your own happiness and success. Good luck to all those youngsters.

  5. Are individuals wholly responsible for their successes or failures in life?

    I think most average Americans strongly believe in being personally responsible and do so every single day as a matter of course, a no-brainer. It’s exasperating to me how often the simplistic statement that “people should take personal responsibility for their lives” is superficially thrown about in our discourse.

    The “personal responsibility” meme implies or asserts that all effects, positive or negative, are self caused. If an individual is doing well in life, it is because he/she was personally responsible by working hard, doing all the right things, making all the right choices. If an individual is doing poorly, he/she created his/her own condition due to a myriad of character faults, bad choices and not taking personal responsibility. It’s an ideology that totally ignores all external, societal influences and events. What people also ignore is that the poorer you are, the more personal responsibility you have to take. Do you buy a bit more food for the family or gas to get to work? Every hour of the day, people with little money have to make these kind of tough decisions to make it through the month.

    We all know or should know that is not how real life plays out. An individual can be a paragon of personal responsibility by any standard and still get broadsided by any number of disastrous events. I think too many people have bought into the idea, ignorantly or deliberately promoted, that people who have fallen into hard times just didn’t plan well enough or made bad decisions and there should be no societal responsibility to give a hand up to them because it would just create more “dependency”. At the same time, I hear even middle class people who luckily haven’t fallen on hard times, at least not yet, express the same opinions. They should know better. I can understand that coming from people who have been very wealthy all their lives and have no clue how most of us live such as Romney who said 47% of Americans pay no taxes (false) and he “could never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

    I’m not dissing any commenter to this blog. It’s the personal responsibility stalking horse used as a universal panacea that will ameliorate any circumstance that gets my goat.

  6. So success and failure in life is a crap shoot. Wow, who knew.. No wonder we have a society where nothing is your fault -you just we’re not privileged enough or you had bad luck…… Not the way of the real world I’m afraid to tell you. I’ve seen hard workers start businesses and fail but got up again and kept swinging. If they were talented enough, smart enough and driven enough they found their way. I’ve never seen a miner get fired for working too hard. Of course disasters befall many but if you’re blessed enough to come through your trials able bodied and you’re willing to work hard you’ll find a way. I’m an older man who grew up the son of a miner who had a job since he was 13, worked in the mines for a few years and became successful in a business everyone said I couldn’t make it in. Don’t buy the crap that life is a crap shoot….. It’ll steal your drive.

  7. Ken speaks the truth and common sense kissa. Read, re-read his post and learn from it. You’ll be successful..

  8. It’s interesting that you interpreted, think I said success and failure in life is a crap shoot. Wrong.
    Ken, we have very similar history. I and my spouse have been both employers and employees. We both had grandparents who were immigrants and we are very familiar with the history of their struggles to make a new life on the Iron Range starting from scratch. One old photo of my grandparents with my parent and siblings early 1900’s depicts how tough it must have been. The children are very young but their parents looked much older than their ages, exhausted, the basic little house surrounded by not quite cleared land, really capturing early settler life from that era.
    Our grandparents and their immigrant peers were rugged individualists but they didn’t succeed in homesteading or raising a family all on their own. Immigrant families in the communities helped each other to survive, mutually benefiting each other and their community. As towns developed there were more support systems available. People have always helped each other in one way or another and still do.
    My point is that there are many, many factors in whether one has success or failure in life and personal responsibility or rugged individualism is just one. If one’s life is a “success”, it didn’t happen without a boost(s) of some kind beyond the individual such as emotional support of family or friends who believed in the individual, financial support opportunities, networking, and more. People do find their way in the face of tough adversity but they don’t walk alone the entire distance.

  9. Headwinds in life are a fact. Everyone hits them at times, it is how you handle them that separates the folks that succeed and those that don’t . Luck will also play a part but as it has been said “the harder I work the luckier I get”. I just see more young people say I’ve been dealt a tough hand so I can’t make it than ever before. That bothers me. Blaming the 1% has become fashionable lately for everyone who has it hard. Can anyone please explain to me how a guy who lives in Duluth, owns a crane company that loads ore boats and cargo ships employs 40 crane operators , pays his taxes, makes over 300,000 dollars a year affects a laid off miner one bit.. Aspire to be him don’t make him out to a villain.

  10. Ken, I don’t think you read one word of my last comment. Also, you brought up and focused on the 1%, not me.

  11. You talked about the very wealthy and Romney in an earlier post. Was wondering how the successful guy hurt the unsuccessful guy? That’s all.

  12. Romney parks his fortune in foreign tax shelters which is why he refused divulge that info. A tax dodger. He became vastly more wealthy working in investment firms that buy up companies, bleed them into bankruptcy and sell them off for profit. He was head of Bain which invested in a Chinese manufacturing company, just one example, that depended heavily on US outsourcing for profits. Thousands of jobs gone and Bain made billions. Most of these practices may not be illegal but should be. He may be a “successful” businessman but no one I have any respect or admiration for.
    These types of business people, the big boys, live and operate in a vastly different world from your example of the crane company owner. The 0.1%, those with inherited wealth, managers, bankers, financial players have trillions stashed in foreign tax shelters while paying the lowest tax rates. The top 400 highest earners pay only 18% personal income tax.
    The top (upper half) 1% recovered from Great Recession quickly. Wall Street did swell, profits rose 720% between 2007 and 2009. 90 to 95% of us have not recovered. Wages have risen little or remained stagnant. If the average person’s wages around $51,000 had kept pace with the economy since the 70’s, it would be $92,000 now. Productivity increased 80% since 1979 but income didn’t rise accordingly. Banks are holding on to $2.7 trillion in excess reserves that they could lend out but choose not to. Corps are earning hugh profits but reluctant to invest due to weak consumer demand. Quite the catch 22.
    What some call income inequality, I think is better described as diminishing opportunities for most Americans. Trickle down has never worked. Money usually flows from one side of the population to the other. Money often works it’s way to the upper classes but rarely flows back the other way. Most extremely wealthy people don’t spend enough money to stimulate the economy. They may spend money on creating jobs or increasing pay for corporate employees but they’re just as likely to save or invest the money instead. Tax cuts for the wealthy have not stimulated the economy. Despite the rich paying higher taxes (if they haven’t found ways to evade them), the majority of tax income comes in from the middle class.
    As far as the individual or small business owner striving to succeed and working their butts off, I don’t think the cards have been this stacked against them since the Gilded Age.

  13. I think I sent a reply to you Kissa but it didn’t show up, not sure why. I hear what you said about the 1% and disagree on what they pay tax wise. In 2011 top 1% earned 19% of all adjusted income in USA, they paid 35% of all Fed taxes…. That seems more than fair…. Trickle down economics is this simple: iron ore is found on Range, companies come here to mine it, they hire miners, towns are built, teachers , doctors, car dealers ect do very well, thousands are employed, the Range is built. All started with evil companies hiring miners….

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