Think back to the most ridiculously huge wedding you've attended. Hopefully it wasn't your own. Now think about the receiving line you had to stand in to give the bride and groom a hug with a couple minutes of small talk. Now replace the wedding party with politicians.
Monday in the Congressional offices was like a mash-up of wedding receiving line and a really popular kid's graduation party. Snacks, excitement, talk of the future. And a whole lot of politics.
Rep. Keith Ellison and Sen. Amy Klobuchar spent the day moving more than 1,000 visiting Minnesotans through their doors for snacks, refreshments and self-guided tours of the cramped quarters.
While many senators only mentioned these open houses to constituents who were planning to pick up their inauguration tickets, Klobuchar decided it would be more fun and chaotic if all Minnesotans came to hang out. Her office was overflowing with excited Minnesotans who wanted a hand shake and a Spam puff. Unfortunately the snacks were gone by the time I arrived. But hey, the huge crowd made Klobuchar look like the coolest kid on the block.
The crowd spilled out into the hallway, clogging the walkway for some of the Californians making their way to offices down the way. Klobuchar anchored in against a wall while a line of people waited for a quick photo and handshake. As the crowds pushed by and people tried to squish in for photos, the American and Minnesotan flags tipped and tumbled behind her. Her husband rushed by, Uggs in hand, for their daughter to take with to her sleepover.
At one point later in the afternoon, Klobuchar took a moment to speak to the crowd:
Klobuchar spoke to CP about her crazy day:
"This is bigger than I thought," Klobuchar said. "We invited everyone in the state because we wanted everyone to be part of this event."
She said she hopes the energy of the week travels back home with the visitors and everyone "takes that energy and puts it into something positive in their communities".
When asked about Al Franken, who currently had a 225-vote lead for Minnesota's second Senate seat, Klobuchar said she had seen him during the weekend and he was "in good spirits". She said she hopes the recount is resolved quickly.
She is holding up Minnesota on her own right now, after all.
Ellison's House office was bustling, but not quite as chaotic. Ellison stayed put in his office as visitors wandered in to greet him and shoot the breeze. It felt more like a gathering of old friends than an elected official speaking to constituents.
When Ellison had to do a live Minnesota Public Radio interview earlier in the day, he kept his office open as people quietly listened in the space surrounding his desk, his spokesman said.
The energetic and upbeat visitors kept Ellison positive after a long day of shaking hands and cheesing for photos. There was no doubt that Washington, D.C. seemed to have a shared sense of purpose in the air.
"The spirit here is really great because everyone is hopeful and thinking positive about our country," he said. "We have amazing challenges facing us and we need that sense of commitment to make positive change."