State Dem. Convention kicks off Friday


There's been an awful lot of enthusiasm in this democratic primary race. Emotions are running high and state party chairs here and nationally the party chair is trying to bring down the negativity a notch or two and both of the candidates are pushing hard to win the remaining contests.

At a raucous rally in Pittsburgh on Friday, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey endorsed Senator Barack Obama and reached out to Senator Clinton.

"I called Senator Clinton last night to tell her my decision and she was very gracious. And we know that she's a great senator and a great leader," said Senator Casey.

And Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D) praised Clinton as he called on her to drop out.

"There's no way Senator Clinton is going to win enough delegates to get the nomination. She ought to withdraw and she ought to be backing Senator Obama," said Senator Leahy.

But Senator Clinton is leading in Pennsylvania and pushing hard on the issue she believes will resonate through out the rust belt.

"The economy is the issue. Because if we don't have a strong economy with rising incomes, good jobs, for people willing to work hard like Americans are willing to do, we will not remain a great country," said Sen. Clinton.

Senator Obama took a page from Clinton's play book, telling supporters in Pittsburgh he's not just about hope.

"I know how hard it is going to be to provide health care to every American, I know how hard it's going to be to fix our schools. I know because I fought on the streets as an organizer," said Senator Obama.

Friday morning State Party Chair Howard Dean told Good Morning America, the candidates need to stick to the issues and stay away from attacking each other.

"We have to keep our mind focused on the idea that at the end of the day, we need change in this country, you're not going to get it by voting for John McCain, that's four more years of George Bush. One of these two candidates needs to win. We're going to win, unless we divide ourselves and that we cannot do," said Dean.

Dean has said that after the June primaries super delegates should decide, before the August convention.

"Well I think that's the natural course of events, that's what's going to happen," State Party Chair Art Torres agreed.

But not all of the super delegates at the convention, were enthusiastic about that idea.

"Being on the convention floor, and being uncommitted even after the first vote. I mean there's nothing that requires me to cast the vote of that first ballot," said Steven Ybarra, a Democrat Super Delegate.

"I'm going to let the voters have their say and if I have to, I'm going to make a decision at the convention," said Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) Pleasanton.

"Should it be done before the convention?" asked ABC7's Mark Matthews.

"Well uh perhaps, I don't think one can curtail a process," said State Sen. Carole Migden (D) San Francisco.

Besides Speaker Pelosi the other big draw of this convention is Former President Bill Clinton who is scheduled to be here on Sunday.

The State Party Chair says he hasn't heard from Senator Obama's campaign about sending a surrogate.

The next democratic primary is in Pennsylvania. It is also the biggest single prize left in the democratic race. It's on April 22nd and will allocate 158 delegates. Recent polls in the state show Senator Clinton with as much as a 12-point-lead.

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