Not all Minnesotans are in Denver to support Obamaby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
Why is Hillary Clinton so popular with Republicans? The Republican National Committee today tried to counter the good feelings among Democrats in Denver by highlighting Democrats who are supporting John McCain. Among them was Tim Penny, a former Democratic congressman turned Independent.
Denver — Republicans may be in unfamiliar territory when it comes to the Clintons. The couple that conservatives have to come to hate are now fully embraced by the Republican Party.
The GOP held a news conference about a mile from Denver's Pepsi Center to draw attention to the fact that not every Democrat is backing Barack Obama for president. Among the speakers was Debra Bartoshevich of Racine, Wis.
"I am speaking out, because I want others to feel that they are able to speak out, and they can come out and say they are going to support a candidate who has the judgment and experience to make tough decisions during these most difficult times," said Bartoschevich.
Bartoshevich is a Hillary Clinton supporter, and she was going to be a delegate to the DNC this year. However, she was stripped of her delegate status after she publicly backed John McCain over Barack Obama. Barstoshevich is now an independent, and she's featured in a John McCain ad that was released this morning.
"She had the experience and judgment to be president. Now in a first for me, I'm supporting a Republican:John McCain," Bartoschevich said.
The McCain campaign's recent praise of Hillary Clinton is meant to draw a wedge between Obama and disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters.
A recent poll by USA Today said more than half of those who backed Hillary Clinton in the primaries aren't sure they'll back Obama in November.
Hillary Clinton denounced the ad during a speech to delegates earlier today. Press reports say she and Obama are also working out a deal to allow some of her supporters to vote for Clinton but later unanimously back Obama.
The Hillary Clinton supporters in Minnesota's delegation met privately last night to discuss their options. Most of those who left the meeting said they will leave the convention united behind Obama, even though they may vote for Clinton during Minnesota's roll call vote on Wednesday night.
DFL state Senator Tarryl Clark, who backed Clinton but is now supporting Obama, said Hillary Clinton supporters know that Obama is a much better candidate than McCain.
"I think Hillary voters, if they're not already there, are going to be there. The difference between Barack Obama and John McCain are night and day," said Clark.
Former Democratic Congressman Tim Penny also came to Denver to appear at the GOP news conference. Penny became a member of the Independence Party during the Jesse ventura era. Now he is supporting John McCain.
"So with Obama we have words, with McCain we have deeds. With Obama we have rhetoric, with McCain we have a record of accomplishment," said Penny. "This is why I believe that many many millions of moderate Democrats and the vast majority of independent voters in this country will find in John McCain the kind of leader we need."
Penny wasn't on board with the full GOP playbook. He told reporters that he didn't think McCain should pick Minnesota's Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty as his running mate. Penny, who ran for governor as an Independent against Pawlenty in 2002, said Pawlenty doesn't have the experience.
"I don't think he's had a very remarkable record as governor. He focused mostly on easy issues and popular issues, and this is a step up and I'm not sure he's as well prepared as others for this step up, but it's McCain's choice to make."
For his part, Pawlenty will make his case to the national press on Thursday in Denver. That's when he's scheduled to give the GOP response to the DNC.
- All Things Considered, 08/25/2008, 6:11 p.m.