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Democrats tell rural delegates to get aggressive

By JERRY HAGSTROM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While rural delegates to the Democratic convention waited today for President Barack Obama’s speech accepting nomination for a second term, scheduled for 10 p.m., Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and other party officials urged them to take an aggressive stance in promoting the Obama-Biden ticket in the November elections.

Salazar said there have been many problems in rural America, but under Obama’s leadership, “rural America is back, rural America is thriving.”

In four years the amount of renewable energy in the country has doubled and wind farms have become a great economic contributor to rural America, Salazar said “What we can’t afford to do is to turn the clock back” to “failed” Republican policies, he added.

Noting that his family ranch is 265 miles southwest of Denver in the remote San Luis Valley, and that his family has been in North America for 12 generations, Salazar recalled a time when there was no electricity or telephone service at the ranch and that when his father was in the hospital the family had to go into town to make a call to find out how he was doing.

“Times have been tough but times are getting better,” Salazar said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., picked up on former President Bill Clinton’s theme Wednesday evening that “arithmetic” can be used to pick apart the Republicans’ proposals to balance the budget and create jobs.

Klobuchar urged the rural delegates to point out to their neighbors that under Obama, farm exports have risen to $137 billion per year and that Republicans are holding up a farm bill that could keep exports moving.

She also said that rural Americans need the transportation bill that was long stalled, and noted that the Obama administration will continue bringing high-speed Internet service to them.

“Kids that grow up in rural Minnesota should be able to live in rural Minnesota,” Klobuchar said, but added that she sees the need for broadband as beyond education, because farmers and companies need it for business communication as well.

Klobuchar also gave the delegates a couple of lines to use against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Outsourcing jobs is called “Mittmanagement” in Minnesota, she said. And Romney’s criticisms of the Olympics in London were called “Mittstatements,” she added.

But Klobuchar told the delegates they need to talk to people who may not agree with them if they are going to convince them to vote for Obama.

“In rural America, you can’t just talk to people in your comfort zone,” she said. “We have to reach out to people who may not be Democrats and give them the facts.”

People will vote for Obama because they will find “common ground” with the Democrats, she said.

Katherine Archuleta, the political director of the Obama campaign and a former chief of staff to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, told the delegates and the members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union who were also in the room, that only they deliver the votes.

“You are the artists of politics,” she said, adding that giving personal reasons for voting for Obama will convince others to vote for him.

“My vote is personal,” said Archuleta, who is from Denver.

Boyd Richie, the former Texas Democratic Party chairman who is married to Betty Richie, the chairman of the Democratic Rural Council, acknowledged that in rural areas it is tough to be a Democrat.

“You would not believe some of the things that are said to us in the grocery stores,” he said. “We have tried to rise above that, but having been raised in the country, I am about to get sideways.”

Richie, a lawyer from Graham, Texas, said that Republicans employ techniques to divide people over race and other social characteristics and that these techniques “move Anglo voters” in rural America.

“Motivated by Fox News, they go to the polls more to vote against us rather than for Republicans,” Richie said.

In confronting Republican statements they consider untruthful, Richie urged, “Stand up and speak out. Don’t just tell the truth, tell the story.”