Sen. Wellstone Returns to Liberal Roots
Source Dave Anderson
Date 99/05/01/21:24

/* Written 7:04 AM Apr 20, 1998 by in igc:labr.all */
/* ---------- "paul wellstone..." ---------- */
Forwarded message:
> From Sun Apr 19 14:40:42 1998
> Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 15:38:47 -0600 (MDT)
> Subject: paul wellstone...
> Sen. Wellstone Returns to Liberal Roots
> The Associated Press
> DES MOINES, Iowa (April 18) - Tom Glenn says he felt a stirring ''deep down in
> my soul'' as he listened to Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone plead with Democrats
> to return to the party's traditional liberal roots.
> A union activist and unabashed Kennedy Democrat, Glenn is a perfect target for
> Wellstone's maverick campaign. But times, it seems, have changed.
> ''I'm just being sort of a realist,'' Glenn said. ''I'm not sure that anybody
> way off to the left can get elected anywhere.''
> Undeterred, Wellstone is plunging ahead, seeking to assemble a grassroots,
> under-financed campaign for a Democratic presidential nomination that many are
> already conceding to Vice President Al Gore.
> ''I'm serious about pulling this off,'' said Wellstone during yet another
> swing through Iowa, where precinct caucuses open the presidential nominating
> season. ''It's time for the Democratic Party to reassert itself.''
> Wellstone says Democrats have sacrificed their identity in a shift to the
> political center, leaving the party indistinguishable from Republicans.
> ''I appreciate what the vice president has done, but I happen to believe that
> a lot of issues that are important to people have been taken off the table,''
> Wellstone said. ''They are not even on the political debate screen any
> longer.''
> Wellstone vows to change all that and has formed an exploratory committee to
> look into seeking the presidential nomination. He is spending time in key
> early states like Iowa and New Hampshire and vowing to focus on ''the kitchen
> table issues'' like health care and education spending.
> ''I'm representing the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. I get a
> twinkle in my eye every time I say that, and people seem to understand it
> right away,'' he said.
> Before he was elected to the Senate in 1990, Wellstone was a college professor
> who led student protests and picketed with striking meatpackers. Although his
> political style has mellowed in office, he remains known for championing
> losing liberal causes, like a national health insurance plan.
> Some argue that Wellstone, 53, has an opportunity in Iowa because he is from a
> neighboring state and practices the sort of grassroots, retail politics that
> work well here.
> ''We have to do it door to door,'' Wellstone said. ''I won't have as much
> money and I won't have the heavy hitters in my corner.''
> Some strategists see Wellstone as helpful to Gore, by giving the vice
> president a chance to move to the political center during the primary season.
> That is precisely at a time when Republicans likely will be headed right to
> capture the party's conservative wing.
> ''I think there is a point of view in the Gore camp that Paul Wellstone coming
> in from the left is good for Gore,'' said Iowa Democratic Chairman Michael
> Peterson. ''It's going to make Al Gore look like the classic moderate.''
> The key will be whether Wellstone can generate enough early backing to
> threaten Gore and force him to counter. There are precious few early signs of
> such a threat.
> Peggy Huppert is a traditional liberal activist who was a Jesse Jackson
> delegate 10 years ago. She confessed to enjoying Wellstone's message. It is
> Gore, however, who has her respect.
> ''He's our sitting vice president,'' Huppert said. ''He's got organization,
> he's got money. He's built a lot of loyalty.''
> Peterson argued that President Clinton has altered the dynamics of the
> Democratic struggle between liberals and moderates.
> ''There's been a shift in activist politics,'' Peterson said. ''The muscle of
> the left, while still present, is not as strong as it was.''
> There are still those likely to respond to Wellstone's message. Former state
> legislator David Osterberg is mounting his own long-shot campaign, seeking to
> oust Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, and he likes what he hears.
> ''I think the things Wellstone's talking about work in Minnesota, and
> Minnesota's not that different from Iowa,'' Osterberg said.
> The power, however, appears to be elsewhere. While enthusiasm for Gore appears
> to be restrained, there is a sense of inevitability.
> ''What I would really like to see is Al Gore in the White House,'' Glenn said.
> ''Gore is OK on the issues.''
> Wellstone says he is undeterred.
> ''The decision the party regulars have to make is what is the purpose of the
> Democratic Party,'' Wellstone said. ''How can the Democratic Party excite
> people again?''

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