FARGO — As the clock neared 7 p.m. Monday, there was a lingering excitement at the Fargo Civic Center.
An hour before a rally for Democratic Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp was set to start, a line snaked its way around the building. Inside, supporters held signs, cheering at the sight of Heitkamp mingling amongst the crowd.
It was excitement that reached its peak just after 8 p.m., when former president Bill Clinton took the stage, drawing the crowd into a frenzy as he gave a 40-minute long speech offering his endorsement of Heitkamp.
The endorsement came just over a week before election day, when Heitkamp will be up against republican Rick Berg.
The event, emceed by Heitkamp’s brother Joel, also featured remarks from outgoing Sen. Kent Conrad, U.S. House candidate Pam Gulleson, as well as a state senator and a city commissioner from Fargo.
In his speech, Clinton spoke heavily on the importance of non-partisan politics, using the event to reflect on the 15th anniversary of the Red River flood in 1997, which heavily damaged the Grand Forks area.
“It proves something,” Clinton said about the area’s recovery. “It proves that when people work together, that’s a lot better than when you’re on your own.
“There is no Democratic or Republican way to recover from a flood.”
Clinton also touched on numerous topics that have been debated nationwide.
He addressed the Affordable Care Act, saying it wasn’t perfect and should be changed, rather than repealed, pointing again to Heitkamp’s willingness to work with both sides.
“Let’s send a practical person out there, to Washington, D.C., who will fix what’s wrong, keep what’s right, and keep America moving forward,” he said.
He also touched on energy policy and student loan debt, and even addressed the movie “Fargo”, saying it was a cult favorite on Air Force One during his final years in office.
Prior to Clinton’s speech, Heitkamp spoke for about 10 minutes, addressing issues including the need for a farm bill and putting an emphasis on energy independence.
Like Clinton, Heitkamp recognized the need to work with both Democrats and Republicans.
“I’ve always worked with people across the aisle,” she said. “The reality in North Dakota is that you have to.”
She also encouraged her supporters to continue making a final push for votes as election day nears.
“Momentum is on our side,” Heitkamp said. “You are here tonight because you know that when good people come together, when good people work for a common cause, when, in 12 hours, we fill up an auditorium of people who have hope and aspirations for the American people, that we can move mountains.”