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These are bittersweet days for Jim Ramstad

Jim Ramstad was wandering around the Xcel Energy Center, shaking hands and looking like a man at peace. For the first time in almost 30 years, Ramstad, who is stepping down after nine terms as the congressman from Minnesota’s 3rd District, is not running for office.

“I have mixed feelings,” Ramstad said. “I’m happy to be doing other things. But I’m part sad, too. I’ve had the chance to serve the best people in the world.”

Ramstad and his spouse, Kathryn, plan to set up a foundation to help get financial support to young people who need chemical dependency treatment when he leaves the Congress.

Unlike many of the Republicans gathered here, Ramstad seems to have some reservations about John McCain’s choice of a running mate.

“My initial reaction when I heard who the choice was a little like when I was in high school and learned that my best friend had been cut from the basketball team,” Ramstad said. “I was hoping the choice would be Tim Pawlenty.”

What of Palin?

“I want to know more about her,” Ramstad said.

Unlike so many delegates, who are elated with Palin, Ramstad says it’s too early to know whether she’ll help McCain “attract independents and Reagan Democrats.” — Doug Grow

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