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Minn. comes into focus in final days to election

ST. PAUL — After months of being taken for granted as a Democratic lock, Minnesota is getting a fresh burst of attention in the presidential race.

Both sides escalated their efforts Friday, issuing an incessant stream of phone calls and leaving glossy reminders of their candidates on doorknobs. And Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama are sending their top surrogates — Romney running mate Paul Ryan and former President Bill Clinton — to the state today, energizing volunteers who are working long hours to make sure people remember to vote on Election Day.

“This is the No. 1 thing that people can be doing right now to turn out Republican votes,” said Kurt Sorensen, manager of the GOP’s Burnsville campaign office. “If they’re reminded how important their individual vote is, they’ll go out and get out to the polls.”

The state is seemingly built for Obama.

At 5.8 percent, unemployment is a full two percentage points beneath the national average. His 10-point win in 2008 was the latest in a Democratic winning streak stretching to 1976. The state GOP has been wracked by internal feuding, deep financial problems and the lack of any statewide officeholder.