Clinton heads to Minnesota as poll shows race tightening

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(CNN) — As President Barack Obama spends the day in Washington dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, one of his top surrogates heads to Minnesota, where the race for the White House has appeared to tighten in the state once considered a safe bet for Democrats.

Former President Bill Clinton will make stops in Minneapolis and Duluth Tuesday to stump on Obama’s behalf. The trip was announced Monday, after a poll over the weekend suggested a close race between the president and his GOP rival Mitt Romney.

That survey, conducted by Mason-Dixon for the Star Tribune, was taken entirely after the final presidential debate. It indicated the president with a three point advantage over Romney among likely Minnesota voters. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they would back the president and 44% said they support Romney. Obama’s advantage was within the survey’s 3.5 percentage point sampling error.

The poll also showed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson with 2% support of likely voters in the state.

Sunday’s poll – paired with small ad buys by the Obama and Romney campaigns in Minnesota – suggest a tightening race in a state that turned out overwhelmingly for then-Illinois Sen. Obama in 2008. Obama took 54% of the vote in Minnesota four years ago, compared to 44% that went to Arizona Sen. John McCain.

The last Republican presidential candidate to win Minnesota was Richard Nixon in 1972. The state carries a prize of ten electoral votes.

Republican’s believe there is some movement in Minnesota toward the GOP while Democrats billed the ad buy as a ploy to generate buzz about a close race that does not exist.

On a conference call Monday, top Obama adviser David Axelrod said the Obama team was “not going to surrender any territory there,” but said he was confident of a win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

An earlier poll from St. Cloud State University, taken from October 15-21 and released Friday, indicated Obama with an eight point edge over Romney, 53% to Romney’s 45%. Like the Star Tribune poll, the result was within the sampling error.

CNN’s Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.

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