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Democratic Convention Notebook: Delegates arrive to color

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ST. PAUL - Delegates descended upon Denver in the days leading up to the Democratic National Convention, and Minnesotans said they were eager for the political show to begin.

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Everyone was enthusiastic on the eve of the convention's first day, Ashleigh Leitch of Willmar said by telephone Sunday as she headed to a pre-convention rally. Delegates are wearing Barack Obama T-shirts and buttons and the mood was festive, she said.

"People are wearing crazy hats, there's lots of red, white and blue," she said. "People are just really excited."

Not all delegates immediately sensed enthusiasm in the Rocky Mountain air.

"Not yet, I guess," Tanweer Janjua of Cottage Grove admitted Sunday afternoon as he waited for a Denver-area commuter train. "But it's exciting to be here with other fellow Democrats."

Obama apparel

T-shirt and button political slogans can be interesting, but a T-shirt many supporters in Eau Claire, Wis., wore to Sen. Obama's Sunday speech could only be seen in that 65,000-population city.

The T-shirts read, "Eau-Bama." For those who don't know the community, it may take a bit of an explanation. The "Eau" is pronounced "O."

Another T-shirt proclaimed: "Barack and roll." Another asked "got hope?" (as in the "got milk?" commercials).

One man apparently made his own bright red Obama-Biden T-shirt, something just now in mass production. And there was at least one Obama-Biden button.

Few strangers

Minnesota's Democratic delegates are from all over the state - from Twin Valley to the Twin Cities, Willmar to Wrenshall - but few were strangers when they arrived in Denver.

Delegates said they had talked and met a number of times in the weeks and months leading up to the national convention.

Good seats

Minnesota delegates to the Democratic National Convention scored a decent seating assignment in Denver's Pepsi Center, but not as good as the Illinois delegation's.

The more than 100 Minnesota Democrats will be seated stage left in the front of the lower level. Delegates from Barack Obama's home state of Illinois are front and center on the convention floor.

Delegates from Republican Sen. John McCain's home state of Arizona are assigned to a section in the back of the arena's lower level.

"Don't read too much into that," U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said.

Protection is why

Many Americans ask Obama why he is running for president, and he has an answer that involves his two daughters:

"Secret Service protection in their teen-age years."

Readying speech

Klobuchar speaks to the national convention around 6:30 or 7 tonight. On Sunday, she rehearsed her speech on stage in the Pepsi Center.

The dry run went fine, she said. "You stand out there and see what it's like."

Klobuchar likes to tell a story about the faulty Teleprompter she encountered while speaking at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Not his way

Obama and GOP rival John McCain differ on how to deal with foreign affairs issues such as the Iraqi war.

"Talking tough and acting dumb is not the way to keep you safe and secure," Obama said.

Young and old

Mike Sundin of Esko was headed into a union rally Sunday afternoon in advance of the national convention and could not help but notice the diverse audience. Sundin, a union painter, said many delegates to the national convention are rank-and-file labor members. And quite a few of them are young people, he said.

"We're not talking union bosses and the old guard here," he said.

Cross that out

Obama tends to get a bit emotional when talking about differences between his policies and those of Republicans, and at one point Sunday he let loose a four-letter word.

"I usually say 'heck,' especially after church," he said.

Penny and McCain

Former Democratic congressman and Independence Party governor candidate Tim Penny of Minnesota is among the hosts of a "Citizens for McCain" news conference in Denver today.

Also talking to reporters will be a Democratic convention delegate who supports Hillary Clinton.

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