Politics & Government

Obama rally at GOP convention site has Democratic ghosts

WASHINGTON — It was with a bit of fanfare that Barack Obama's campaign this weekend announced that the Illinois senator would hold his final primary night rally of the year Tuesday on Republican turf.

A symbolic shot across their bow, if you will.

But the site they chose might have Democratic ghosts.

As the final primary votes are cast Tuesday in Montana and South Dakota, Obama and his wife will travel not to one of those places but to St. Paul, Minn., where they will attend a rally at the Xcel Energy Center, a downtown arena where the Republican National Convention will be held this summer.

The campaign hopes it's a potent sign of how he will take the fight to the Republicans on their own turf, assuming he wins the Democratic nomination. They also think it's a sign of his he'll fight for closely competitive states such as Minnesota.

There's one problem, however.

The site they chose played another role in political history. And it's not a memory Democrats relish.

It was at that site where Democrat Walter Mondale met with about 2,000 crying supporters on election night to concede the 1984 presidential election to President Ronald Reagan.

And it wasn't just a loss. It was an electoral college landslide.

Reagan swept 49 states and took 525 electoral college votes. Mondale carried just his home state of Minnesota — narrowly — and Washington DC, giving him just 13 electoral college votes.

It was the worst electoral college defeat ever suffered by a Democrat in American history.

Other Democratic landslide losers fared better: Jimmy Carter got 49 electoral college votes against Reagan's 489 in 1980, and George McGovern got 17 against Richard Nixon's 520 in 1972.

And it was the worst by anyone since Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt clobbered Republican Alf Landon in 1936 by the electoral college margin of 523-8.

Mondale appeared gracious that night at the St. Paul Civic Center, later torn down to allow construction of the Xcel Energy Center.

"He has won, we are all Americans, he is our president, and we honor him tonight," Mondale said.

"I am thankful to America for hearing my case."

No doubt. Yet Democrats no doubt are in no rush to be reminded of election night 1984.