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Dayton, Ellison ask Sanders' delegates to work for Clinton

By J. PATRICK COOLICAN

Star Tribune staff writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Gov. Mark Dayton and Rep. Keith Ellison spoke to a breakfast for delegates from Minnesota and Tennessee at the Democratic National Convention here and pleaded with backers of Sen. Bernie Sanders to work for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats down the ballot this fall.

It was another sign that despite the outward shows of unity -- including Sanders moving to nominate Clinton by acclamation at Tuesday's convention meeting -- Democrats remain concerned about whether they have unified the party going into the fall election.

Polls show a much tighter race than Democrats hoped or expected following a Republican National Convention that nominated celebrity mogul Donald Trump.

"I want to talk to the Bernie Sanders delegates," Dayton said, growing emotional as he evoked campaigns past.

"One of the reasons (Sanders) was so successful is that he sounds a lot like Paul Wellstone, and that's a high compliment," Dayton said of his late friend, who continues to be an icon in progressive Minnesota politics.

"I understand what it feels like. I remember when Paul died, the sense of loss, the sense of nihilism, you know, what matters? (Sen.) Strom Thurmond gets to live to 100, and Paul Wellstone doesn't make it to 60? Why God? What's the point?"

Dayton, who reminded the delegates he was the only Minnesotan to make Richard Nixon's "enemies list," implored the delegates: "Please, I'm begging you, Hillary Clinton may not be Bernie Sanders, but she's  a progressive and she's a heckuva lot better than Donald Trump."

"I can say with confidence, as (Wellstone) used to say, 'She's from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,'"Dayton said before leaving for a meeting with the Democratic Governors Association.

Ellison, who represents Minneapolis in Congress and was a key backer of Sanders before recently endorsing Clinton, gave a rousing address about the threat of Trump taking America back to an era before Civil Rights victories.

Ellison's mother, who grew up in Louisiana, was sent to boarding school because of threats from the Ku Klux Klan because her father was helping organizing black voters there, Ellison said.  

"If you think we live in a smart phone democratic society, and that we won't slide back into an ugly scenario, you are wrong," he said. "Many societies, the politics shifted in a nasty, nasty way."

"I'm not trying to scare you," he said, although fear undergirded his argument. "But read your own history book. We've never had someone like Donald Trump on major party ticket."

Ellison said that if civic participation, voting and volunteering are civil virtues, then apathy and a failure or refusal to vote are "civic sins."

The delegates will hear President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine at Wednesday evening’s session.

Morning Hot Dish: Will diversity outreach be enough for Clinton?

By J. PATRICK COOLICAN

Star Tribune staff writer

PHILDELPHIA -- Good morning. Another day of the DNC is in the books. Smoother day inside the hall for the Dems, with Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major party, after Sen. Bernie Sanders moved to suspend the rules and nominate her by acclamation. (Emotional moment when Bernie Sanders’ brother cast his ballot for his brother, both in tears.)  There were still demonstrations outside the hall, however.

There’s an old story (perhaps apocryphal) from the 1992 GOP convention when Ronald Reagan gave what would turn out to be a farewell speech to the Republican National Convention and a member of the liberal media elite said in frustration, “He’s doing it again!” Meaning, romancing the crowd and the public in a way only he could and thwarting the dreams of Democrats hoping to upend a long period of GOP ascendancy. As it turned out, Reagan’s effort was not enough to propel George H.W. Bush, who was beaten by a young governor of Arkansas.  

I can imagine conservative Republicans feeling the same frustration -- “He’s doing it again!” -- about former President Bill Clinton, who addressed the crowd Tuesday night. Clinton changed the trajectory of the 2012 race with a speech at the Democratic National Convention when he seemed to be able to explain Obama’s policies better than Obama.

(I’ve seen this in my own father, a conservative Republican, who has watched Clinton for a quarter century with what I would call a “loathing admiration” for his political talents.) 

Last night, Clinton essentially re-introduced America to Hillary Rodham Clinton, beginning with a love story about meeting her at Yale Law School, a story he has told hundreds of times. (People who speak to audiences should take note: Tell a story.)

Despite the huge hall and the national television audience, Clinton has always had the ability to convey intimacy. His own apparent physical frailty and a tremor in his hand gave the scene a hint of vulnerability. He went on for more than 40 minutes with an array of stories about the seemingly endless bullet points on Hillary Clinton’s resume doing this, that and the other for children’s health and children with disabilities and on and on. (It really would be the best college application in the history of the world.)

He closed saying that what you’ve heard about Hillary Clinton this campaign from the other side is a “cartoon” and a lie, that she is the best “change maker” (ugh to that phrase) he has ever met.

For a minute I thought the crowd was flat before realizing I had my noise-canceling headphones on. They were roaring by the end.

Bill Clinton is still broadly popular. His political skills are not in dispute, whether you love or despise him. Will his speech lend credibility to his wife’s campaign? We will know in a week or two if this convention was effective. If it is, then Bill Clinton will have gone some way to making up for a lifetime of marital failings.

Here’s the AP.

Sean Trende, smart, GOP leaning election analyst, with some real talk: All campaign, for a year, people have been talking down Donald Trump’s chances. He’s been beating expectations every time. There’s no reason to think he won’t do it again. The reality of this race is that it’s a tossup at the moment. Read it.

More on Bill Clinton: If you’re younger than about 30, you probably don’t have much understanding of what America was like when he was elected president in 1992, unless you read books, and you probably don’t because you spend all your time on Snapchat or MySpace or whatever. This ignorance helps explain how Clinton’s 90s record was re-litigated during the Democratic primary, with WJC’s New Democrat tenure painted as an era of mass incarceration and corporatism.

The reality is that Republicans had won five of six presidential elections and suburban America had no confidence Democrats could govern, so Clinton moved the party right on crime, welfare and business. Clinton changed the electoral map, with the help of some good luck. It was a period of peace and prosperity, albeit with foreign and domestic calamities lying beneath the surface. Matthew Yglesias has more.

Despite Day last night’s show of unity with Sanders, even if Clinton wins, she will have far less space to operate than her husband or Obama. She will continue to face a restive left. Of course, on the upside for her, that creates an opportunity to revive a great retro term from the 1990s: Triangulation! 

Tonight, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden take the stage. Just a guess: I expect Biden’s endorsement to be personal and aimed at the middle class ethnic Catholics Clinton needs. Obama will talk up Clinton as commander-in-chief. Tim Kaine, the vice presidential nominee, will get his introduction to the public. (Important question: Did Tim Kaine used to be hot?)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar got a good speaking slot and discussed human trafficking and Clinton’s battle to end it during her career. Oof: Chris Cillizza, who can be said to represent Beltway conventional wisdom and has long talked up Klobuchar as a possible national political candidate, rated Klob a “loser” on his list of “winners and losers” last night.

Observation from the hall and listening to a lot of speeches: Good oratory is difficult. Difficult to write and difficult to execute. Which makes it rare. Just an FYI after spending about four hours listening to speeches Tuesday night.

Spent Tuesday morning with Klobuchar as she visited the delegate breakfasts of California, Florida, both huge states whose breakfasts require a big wedding sized ballroom. She also visited...Iowa. Hmmm. More on that later this week.

Congrats to Mallory Weggemann, Eagan native who won a gold medal at the Paralympic Games in London and led the Pledge of Allegiance at the DNC Tuesday. From the release: “This is an amazing platform for the Paralympic Movement,” Mallory said. “It is tremendous honor to be on this stage and to show others the strength that athletes like myself, who have been paralyzed, or face other physical challenges, truly have.”

Patrick Condon and I wrote about the diversity of the Minnesota delegation, which is quite remarkable, reflecting the convention as a whole. (Peter Beinart says the dividing line in this election is not left and right, domestic or foreign policy, but “multicultural, cosmopolitan America or nostalgia America.”) If Democrats lose this election, it will be because they overlearned Obama’s victories (or learned the wrong lessons) and bet too heavily on a diverse coalition and lost too many white men in the process. It’s sad that we calculate elections in such stark racial terms, but this is nothing new.)

Also interesting about the Minnesota delegation: Far more diverse than the legislative caucuses, which remain stubbornly monochromatic due in part to a lack of term limits. Ricardo Lopez addressed this recently.

Bluestem Prairie on Rep. Bob Gunther struggling to fulfill a bus contract.

The lifetime cost of treating a child born with Zika virus could be as much as $10 million. Congress went on recess without doing anything to prevent it.

I get email: Good morning, J. Patrick!  I wanted to personally invite you to a very special and intimate dinner with special guests: U.S. Senator Al Franken and Vice President Walter Mondale on Thursday, August 25th at the award winning restaurant Spoon and Stable (Private room). This will be a great opportunity to have dinner with our junior U.S. Senator and Former Vice President to talk to them about the 2016 races.  Please note that there is very limited seating for this dinner, so RSVP's will be on a first come, first serve basis. 

Only $1,000. At least they didn’t call me “Pat.”

Which brings me to campaign finance filings this week. Brian Bakst on Daudt’s race: Pro Jobs Majority (Biz Pac) doing mail backing @kdaudt in #mnleg primary; Joan Cummins sole donor to @NewLeadershipMN campaign against Daudt.

Cummins is a big GOP donor, wife of Robert Cummins of Primera Technology. What do they have against Daudt?

Daudt walked back his comment from last week that he managed to get Gov. Mark Dayton to “cave” in special session negotiations. Except, he didn’t really.

Meanwhile, his opponent’s unpaid adviser, Jake Duesenberg, is listed on the website of the Tea Party Alliance as executive director. Tea Party Alliance has an independent expenditure against Daudt. That’s against the rules that forbid coordination between IE and candidate.

Duesenberg tells me he quit the Tea Party Alliance in December and has asked to be removed from the website.

Expect an official complaint from Daudt allies on this, which should tell you how nervous they are about his primary.

Big report for Dario Anselmo, GOP challenger to Rep. Ron Erhardt in Edina (49a): $71,443, according to release. Big problem for DFL if Anselmo wins this seat, though Trump is likely a big drag.

And a tipster points me to the report of Candy Sina, seeking the open Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bev Scalze. Sina used campaign funds to buy a $4,809 golf cart. Nicely done.

Behind a day on this, but read this piece on the tough DFL challenge to Senate Minority Leader David Hann by civics teacher Steve Cwodzinski. That’s both Republican leaders facing challenges, though in Speaker Kurt Daudt’s case it’s in his own party.

Nice pie chart of federal government discretionary spending. Note this does not include entitlements. More than half on defense.

Really interesting history of foreign powers interfering in our elections: With Prime Minister Winston Churchill's approval, British spies and intelligence officers spread rumors to discredit Charles A. Lindbergh, the famous aviator who was the most prominent American Firster.

Love this long read about the Florida Senate race, a total freakshow.

Buzz at the hotel bar, by the way, is that Democrats are privately confident they will take back the Senate given the map.

Michael Jordan with a statement about killings of young black men and police. This is unusual because Jordan has studiously avoided any and all politics his entire public life. He seems to be undergoing some kind of transformation post retirement, which hasn’t treated him all that well.

Ugh: Mass killings apparently have a contagion, copycat effect, researchers are finding.

John Hinckley, Jr., who tried to kill Ronald Reagan in 1981, can leave a mental hospital and live with his mother because he's no longer a danger, a judge rules.

Arrests outside the governor’s residence of demonstrators, many of them there since the killing of Philando Castile. I drove by there a few times last weekend and everything seemed peaceful, even if it gave off a homeless encampment vibe. Cops moved in when they saw people sleeping on the street on blankets. Conflict became more intense around midnight.

Feeling down? Read about Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai, who was in the Twin Cities Tuesday: The 19-year-old Pakistani activist who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban for speaking up for girls' education rights made a surprise visit at a lunch with 20 star-struck girls, followed by an evening inspiring a much larger crowd. About 5,000 people — many of them girls — packed Target Center to hear Yousafzai tell her life story and encourage them to believe in themselves and use their voices to change the world.

"Sometimes we feel like I'm just one girl. But look at this place here, how many people are here. The change we can bring, it's amazing," she told the crowd. "Always believe in yourself, whatever mission you have in life. Don't put limits on your life."

No excuse for cynicism, HotDishers!

Correspondence: patrick.coolican@startribune.com and Twitter: @jpcoolican.

-- J. Patrick Coolican

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