Democratic convention notebook

ST. PAUL - Amy Klobuchar had barely pulled out of her driveway en route to Washington, before taking her U.S. Senate position nearly two years ago, when Barack Obama was on the telephone.

ST. PAUL - Amy Klobuchar had barely pulled out of her driveway en route to Washington, before taking her U.S. Senate position nearly two years ago, when Barack Obama was on the telephone.

"We weren't even sworn in yet and he was already determined to break the lock the lobbyists had on Washington..." now-Sen. Klobuchar told the Democratic National Convention in a brief Monday night speech. "By the time we got to Washington, we had an ethics reform plan in place."

Klobuchar told delegates that Obama, who will accept his party's presidential nomination Thursday night, led the effort to win passage of the ethics package.

"Within months, he had marshaled support on both sides of the aisle, and it became the law of the land," she said.

In her brief speech, the senator said Obama is someone Americans can trust.


"It is time for the American people to take back their White House," she said.

Klobuchar began her fiery speech with: "Are you tired of that subprime leadership in the White House?" Democratic delegates, of course, applauded loudly.

Dean: Get rural vote

Democrats must pay attention to rural America, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee told Minnesota convention delegates Monday.

Chairman Howard Dean made similar comments to other states' convention delegations, too.

The comments thrilled Minnesota delegate Nancy Larson of Dassel, who in June won her second term to the national committee saying that rural issues too often are ignored.

"The fact is that we tend as Democrats to concentrate on inner city and the problems there, and not recognizing the problems in rural United States," Larson said from Denver. "We have ignored them too long as a Democratic Party and maybe the nation as a whole."

Larson was disappointed when told that Obama did not touch on rural issues Sunday while in Eau Claire, Wis.


Campaigns can "get stuck on a message and you forget to look at your audience closely enough," Larson said. "He needs a poke in the ribs, and I am going to poke him."

Obama and vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden are not rural lawmakers.

"Rural isn't a natural for him," she said. "It isn't for either of our candidates. They have dealt with the big, broad issues. They are in the metro areas, they deal more with metro areas and metro problems."

Getting inspired

Minnesota's Democratic contingent includes a number of first-time national convention delegates and alternates, including Tanweer Janjua of Cottage Grove.

"Just getting this far is a pretty big thing," Janjua said. "I'm going to be learning more and more about democracy and how the process works, and to meet the new leaders, inspire myself and get to know more about it."

"My goal is just to learn more and come back and support my party."

Didn't wait up


Ashleigh Leitch, an alternate delegate from Willmar, said she was glad Obama used e-mail and a text message to tell supporters he picked Biden as his running mate.

But Leitch, 21, admitted she did not stay awake long enough to get the message early Saturday.

"I called it quits around 2 a.m.," she said. "I just couldn't take it anymore."

The e-mail came at 2:44 a.m. Saturday.

Not all partying

To many Americans, political conventions seem to be all partying and speechmaking.

But many Minnesota Democratic delegates say they are in Denver to learn. Andrew Falk of Murdock, for instance, wants to learn about renewable energy policy.

"I want to attend as many of those seminars and listen and learn and communicate with people," he said.


Dancing delegate

Delegates were in a festive mood in Denver's Pepsi Center on Monday night - and Minnesotans got in on the act.

After U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., delivered a speech at the convention, a C-SPAN camera caught Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto grooving in her seat to the song "Dance to the Music."

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