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As Kaine stumps for Dayton, Rybak gets in a plug or two

Always the salesman, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak used the occasion of a visit by former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who currently is chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to lobby for bringing the 2012 Democratic National Convention to Minneapolis.

Officially, Kaine was in the city to show DNC support for Mark Dayton’s gubernatorial campaign.

Kaine and Rybak, of course, did sing Dayton’s praises.

But on this gorgeous morning, Rybak also compared Minneapolis to the three other cities, Cleveland, St. Louis and Charlotte, that are vying for the convention.

In introducing Kaine to a gaggle of reporters outside the Hennepin County Government Center, Rybak said he didn’t want to make any “cheap pitches’’ for Minneapolis, but ... Wednesday it was 91 and humid in St. Louis, Rybak said. He noted that it was 92 and humid in Cleveland and 96 and “very humid in Charlotte.’’

Turns out the mayor also had taken Kaine to the Twins-Tigers game at Target Field on Tuesday night because Kaine, who was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, is a lifelong Twins fan.

“He’s a real fan,’’ Rybak said. “He’s not like a lot of politicians. He didn’t just show up and leave early. ... He knows that Jim Kaat won 10 Gold Gloves in a row.’’ (Actually, Kaat won 16 successive Gold Gloves for defensive prowess.)

Kaine ducked questions about the convention, saying that decision won’t be made until the end of this year or in January of next.

Standing with Rybak, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Dayton, Kaine said that Dayton, unlike his Republican opponent, Tom Emmer, would work to form partnerships with local communities.

“This is a race that pits ideology against common sense,’’ said Kaine, who scoffed at Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s decision Tuesday to reject federal health care funds.

Before and after the short news conference, Republican Party officials, carrying a copy of the St. Paul  Pioneer Press, pointed to a headline in the front page of that paper. The headline read: “Dear Democrats: Your Message Isn’t Working.’’ The headline was over a story about a Gallup poll that shows Democrats are in big trouble headed into the November elections.

Michael Brodkorb, the Republican’s deputy chairman, spoke to reporters after Kaine and Dayton were finished.

“Chairman Kaine doesn’t help (Dayton),’’ Brodkorb said. “ ... He’s a foot soldier for Obama and his numbers are tanking.’’

Brodkorb, who usually speaks effortlessly and with considerable confidence, got tripped up when a reporter asked him if it would help Emmer’s cause if Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, would come to Minnesota.

Steele, of course, is not exactly loved in his own party.

“I don’t know,’’ said Brodkorb, a bit of unsteadiness in his voice. “I don’t think it’s helpful for the chairman of the DNC to come in today.’’

The question about Steele was repeated.

“I don’t know if it helps or hurts,’’ Brodkorb said.

Throughout his presentation, Kaine had insisted that it’s too early for Democrats to give up on November.

He especially praised the efforts by all DFL gubernatorial candidates to get behind Dayton.

“We feel good about the energy,’’ said Kaine of the state of the party. “Republicans are still chasing people out of their party.’’

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