The floor of the Democratic Convention was maybe one-quarter full when Sen Patrick Leahy gave a 10-min speech on Tuesday at 4 p.m., long before prime time. The three rows occupied by the Vermont delegation were filled, however. Howard Dean was among the listeners, as was Congressman Peter Welch.
Vermont's senior senator (that's him on the right with wife Marcelle) was cheered enthusiastically as he spoke — not about the civil liberties abuses of the Bush years, the theme with which he is most closely identified — but on the topic of Rural America.
Here's the senator's opening lines:
"I'm Patrick Leahy. I live on a dirt road in a town of 1800 in Vermont. I know rural America."
And his close:
"When Barack Obama is president, we can once again look with hope to a prosperous new day for our rural communities, from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Green Mountains of Vermont."
In between, Leahy deplored the impact of high energy prices on rural areas, accused John McCain of being as cozily in bed with Big Oil as has been George Bush, warned of rising crime in the countryside, called for high-speed Internet access throughout the Heartland, and assured his listeners that Obama's policies are superior to McCain's in every way that's relevant to rural America.