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Democrats charmed by 'down to earth' Biden at state convention

GRAND FORKS--North Dakota Democrats attending their state convention here described former Vice President Joe Biden as a "down to earth" politician after he rallied party faithful to re-elect Sen. Heidi Heitkamp Saturday, March 17.

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Joe Biden reacts to a Carson Wentz jersey given to him by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp after his speech to the North Dakota Democratic convention Saturday in Grand Forks. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS-North Dakota Democrats attending their state convention here described former Vice President Joe Biden as a "down to earth" politician after he rallied party faithful to re-elect Sen. Heidi Heitkamp Saturday, March 17.

Biden's speech helped boost some Democratic enthusiasm ahead of the convention as the party seeks to defend its only statewide officeholder and win seats elsewhere.

Mary Rennich, a delegate from Bismarck, heard Biden speak during a luncheon that was closed to the press prior to his keynote speech at the Alerus Center.

"He's just another guy," she said. "He doesn't let his importance in the world cloud over what's in his heart."

Former state lawmaker Eliot Glassheim called Biden "funny and honest." He appreciated his emphasis on reaching consensus in an increasingly partisan environment.

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Karen Ehrens, another delegate from Bismarck, said Biden's speech was "energizing." While he hit on problems afflicting the country, Biden managed to strike an optimistic tone, she said.

"His energy will help us make the change we feel is needed," Ehrens asid.

Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan said "people respond to Joe" because his political message is "right in the bullseye of what people care about." He said there are similarities between Biden Heitkamp, a Democrat facing a tough re-election challenge this year from Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer.

"Both (are) very assertive, both willing to find compromises with Republicans," Dorgan said of Heitkamp and Biden.

As Biden concluded his remarks, Heitkamp handed him a signed Carson Wentz Philadelphia Eagles jersey. Biden is an Eagles fan but gave a nod to the university that produced the star quarterback.

"God bless North Dakota State," he said.

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