At 17, Minnesota delegate is Democrats' youngestby Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public Radio
The Democratic Party has been trumpeting the diversity of this year's convention -- with 44 percent of delegates hailing from minority communities -- and also a broad range of ages.
There are delegates here as old as 90, and the youngest of the 4,400 delegates to the Democratic National Convention happens to hail from Minnesota.
St. Paul, Minn. — David Gilbert-Pederson is only 17 right now, though he'll be old enough to vote this year... just barely.
"I'm turning 18 on October 8th," he says.
His birthday is less than a month before election day.
Gilbert-Pederson has been politically active his whole life. He gives his parents the credit.
"They used to take me when I was a baby in the backpack door-knocking and lit. dropping with them."
David's dad Dan Pederson said David's being modest.
"You know we've been politically involved on the margins of campaigns, but he's taken it to a level that we haven't engaged in, and in fact, he's been an inspiration to me," he said. "To see him so enthusiastically involved has prompted me to be more involved."
The first political campaign Gilbert-Pederson volunteered for was Paul Wellstone's 2002 re-election bid. He was 12.
He's now on his fifth, working just about every day as an unpaid intern for the Obama campaign.
"Hit 250 doors today, made 363 phone calls or so yesterday."
He's so into this campaign that he's skipping the fall semester of his senior year so see it through to the end.
"The learning experience that you get on a campaign with organizing tips and different people skills and just how to run a campaign, how to win an election is just going to be amazing," he said. "It already has been, and I'm really looking forward to continuing that education."
Gilbert-Pederson said he thinks he'll learn a lot at the convention, but it's not exactly a cheap education. Delegates to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions have to pay their own way.
"We were thinking like $1,100 -- gas money, hotels, food," he said. So where does a 17-year old with an unpaid internship come up with that kind of money?
He throws a fundraiser for himself.
A couple dozen friends of the family showed up at the Gilbert-Pederson house on a recent Saturday to have a little ice cream, wish David well and throw a little money toward the effort.
"In the five campaigns I've worked on, I've always done field, so finance is not my strong suit," Gilbert-Pederson said.
Yes, as a budding political operative, he already has a specialty.
"And it's a little awkward for me to ask people for money, but I guess it's something I have to do if I want to go to Denver."
And considering Gilbert-Pederson wants to run for office himself some day -- learning how to ask people for money is probably good education, too.
- All Things Considered, 08/25/2008, 6:15 p.m.