Monday, August 25, 2008
BREAKFAST WITH THE DEMS
DENVER _ Monday’s breakfast for the New Mexico delegation to the 2008 Democratic National Convention was packed with speakers.
Former Denver Mayor and former Bill Clinton cabinet member Federico Pena was there to welcome the delegates and plea with Hillary Clinton supporters to get behind the Barack Obama/Joe Biden ticket.
Former Al Gore campaign manager and current CNN pundit Donna Brazile gave a short but enthusiastic pep talk to state Democrats. She praised Gov. Bill Richardson, who hadn’t yet arrived in Denver. “I feel like I’ve known Gov. Richardson all my life,” she said. “Sometimes I think he’s the original soul man. No offense, James Brown.”
Brazile hadn’t been scheduled to speak at the breakfast. However, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish saw her talking to the Washington D.C. delegation which was having breakfast across the hall at the Crowne Plaza hotel and decided to ask to speak to the New Mexico group. “Sometimes the best thing here happen by chance,” Denish said. She said she’d first met Brazile in 2000 when Denish was state party chairman and Brazile was campaigning for Gore.
One of the more unusual appeals heard at the morning meal was by Tod Sedgwick, a bird hunter who lives in Washington D.C. and a volunteer with the Obama campaign. He’s trying to organize Sportsmen for Obama groups in all 50 states.
The effort is a part of the Obama campaign’s rural outreach program, Sedgwick said. Last week in Santa Fe Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean stressed the importance of Democrats trying to peel off Republican support in rural areas.
“On the surface you wouldn’t think a guy from Chicago would be a natural advocate for sportsmen,” Sedgwick said of Obama. “He’s not pretending to be a sportsman or fisherman.”
But, Sedgwick said, sportsmen around the country are becoming increasingly concerned about deteriorating natural habitats for the fish, fowl and beast they love to pursue.
Obama, he said has a far superior record compared with Republican John McCain in preserving habitat for animals.
“He wants to open up access on public lands to hunting and fishing,” Sedgwick said.
Sedgwick said he has no illusions that Obama will win a majority of sportsman votes. For one thing many hunters are members of the National Rifle Association, which traditionally supports Republicans because of the gun control issue.
“But when you look at their voting records on gun issues, Obama’s record is virtually identical to McCain’s.
The NRA in 2004 gave McCain a lifetime grade of C-plus. That same year, based on his record in the Illinois Legislature the RNA gave Obama a lifetime grade of F. In 2007, Gun Owners of America graded Obama with an F, but gave McCain an F-minus.
Sedgwick said that despite the claims of some gun rights activists, Obama isn’t out to confiscate guns. Obama has pointed out that many of his constituents in southern Illinois have a long tradition of hunting and fishing.
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