Mayor RT Rybak addresses DNC
Mayor RT Rybak on stage at DNC
MINNEAPOLIS -- The job of delivering the party's message fell largely on big city mayors at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night.
And one of the rising stars who took the stage in Charlotte was Mayor RT Rybak of Minneapolis. The third-term mayor, who ran for the DFL endorsement for Governor in 2010, brought some heat to the lectern.
"I was raised Republican, but I don't recognize the once-proud party that's been hijacked by extremists and driven off the flat earth they pretend we're living on," Rybak told the crowd in Charlotte.
Rybak defended President Obama's record on the economy, and accused Republicans of intentionally thwarting efforts by the White House to make deeper changes.
"In the middle of one of the worst crises in American history they sat on their hands and played politics," Rybak asserted.
He has taken a more prominent role in the party since being named a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. But Rybak loyalty to the President Obama runs deep.
"RT Rybak invested early in Barack Obama, way before most folks even took him seriously," Larry Jacobs, of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, told KARE.
"And he's remained loyal to him since then."
Rybak was one of the mayors who launched the Draft Obama movement in 2006. In his speech he recalled campaigning in small cities in Iowa for Obama, back when it appeared then-Senator Hillary Clinton had a lock on the nomination.
Rybak thanked Iowans Tuesday night for putting Obama on the road to victory in 2008, and said the President has kept the faith with those who backed him then.
He also paid homage to another Minneapolis Mayor who shook things up at the 1948 convention in Philadelphia. Hubert H. Humphrey called on Democrats to embrace equal rights for African Americans, leading some southern Democrats to split off from the main party.
Rybak was one of six big city mayors at the DNC who made the case for a second Obama term. Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and rising Democrat star, took the stage earlier in the evening.
Booker got the crowd on its feet with a rousing call for investment in health care, job development and education.
"You should be able to give your children the kind of education that allows them to dream even bigger, to go even further! And to accomplish more than you could ever imagine!"
The honor of the convention's keynote address went to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who explained how his orphaned immigrant grandmother school in the fourth grade to support herself, and yet built a life for her family working as a maid.
"The American Dream is not a sprint, and not even a marathon, but a relay race," Castro remarked.
"Our families don't always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor."
Professor Jacobs said all the the speakers are like slices of a pie, selected by the DNC to reach different segments of the voting public. And, he noted, mayors add something to the mix that Washington insiders can't offer.
"When you shoot out to New Jersey or to Texas -- or to Minnesota with RT Rybak -- you're demonstrating that the Democratic party's not just about big government Washington politics," Jacobs told KARE.
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