Straight Talk—from the Democratic Convention


DENVER - It isn't just Republican John McCain who's offering straight talk on the presidential campaign this year. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a former Democratic national chairman, offered a little of his own, dismissing suggestions his party's nominee will radically reshape the presidential map this year.

He predicted Democrat Barack Obama will win the key state of Pennsylvania, by a modest 3 or 4 percentage points. But he said that dreams of turning important red states blue this year aren't likely to be realized.

"I think Sen. Obama's effort to expand our base and turn more states blue - like Colorado, Virginia - in the main part will fail. When he runs for re-election, he'll get those states, but not this time," Rendell said in an appearance Tuesday at the Denver Press Club, hours before he addressed the full convention on energy policy.

Add to Obama's column Iowa, New Hampshire and Ohio and "a few states that voted red in the last election," he said. But in what Rendell expects to be an electoral-vote cliffhanger, he predicted no "huge change in the map from four years ago," when President Bush won the key swing states of Florida, Missouri and Ohio and U.S. Sen. John Kerry carried Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Rendell said Michigan would be "a real struggle" if McCain were to choose as his running mate Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and son of a Michigan governor.

A new Quinnipiac University poll Tuesday showed Obama behind McCain in Florida, even with him in Ohio and holding onto a seven-point lead in Pennsylvania. Rendell noted that Obama wins bonus points in Pennsylvania for his vice-presidential pick of Joe Biden, a hometown boy from Scranton, Pa., whose career as a U.S. senator from nextdoor Delaware has landed him on eastern Pennsylvania TVs for 35 years.

Sounding like the Hillary Clinton supporter he once was, Rendell said that for Obama to win the White House he will need to win for himself two of Mrs. Clinton's core audiences: white, blue-collar workers and women who wanted Hillary. In the end, all but 5 percent to 6 percent of Mrs. Clinton's fans will come around to vote - though maybe not work enthusiastically - for Obama, he predicted.

Rendell showed off a convention button he got from someone in Mrs. Clinton's home state of New York: "Hillary supports Obama. So do I." But he stuck it back in his pocket, not on his lapel.


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