Conservative Mormon a Darling of the Kos

By Chris Cillizza
Sunday, June 11, 2006

LAS VEGAS -- One is a telegenic liberal from San Francisco; the other a socially conservative Mormon from Searchlight, Nev.

You might suppose that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Californian, not Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevadan, would win a popularity contest among the partisans gathered here this weekend for the first YearlyKos convention, a loose conglomeration of predominantly liberal online activists.

Not so, according to a recent poll of more than 10,000 readers of Daily Kos, one of the most popular liberal blogs making up what Democratic activists call the "net roots."

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they approved of the job Reid is doing, while 26 percent disapproved. By contrast, 30 percent approved of Pelosi's performance, while 56 percent disapproved.

Why the disparity? Many observers trace it to Reid's decision last November to force a closed session of the Senate to discuss the Bush administration's handling of intelligence in the run-up to the war in Iraq. The gambit turned him into a hero among liberal grass-roots activists, who had been growing impatient with what they perceived as the fecklessness of many congressional Democrats when it came to taking on President Bush.

"This is a guy who knows how to fight," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said of Reid during a speech Saturday morning. "Not all of those Washington politicians are what you think they are."

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos Web site, credited Reid with legitimizing the convention by agreeing early on to deliver the keynote address. Pelosi was scheduled to speak as well but canceled her appearance as votes kept her in Washington.

Reid also wrote a letter that found its way into the packets distributed to every attendee of the conference. "I've always felt welcomed in your community," he wrote. "You are an unstoppable force in educating Americans on important issues and ensuring the American people know the truth."

Not all of the reviews for Reid were good. Conservative-turned-liberal commentator and blogger Arianna Huffington urged attendees to pigeonhole the senator and tell him to dump the "Together We Can Do Better" mantra the party has adopted. Huffington called it the "lamest" message she could imagine.

New Democrats Use Soccer to Chase Goal

While the World Cup remains a yawn for many in the United States, a big exception is Hispanic Americans, who generally share the rest of the world's mania for soccer. Now the New Democrat Network is betting that it can use the soccer tournament to court the Hispanic vote.

NDN has started a $2 million radio and television campaign based around the World Cup, which is underway in Germany, in hopes of branding the Democratic Party as the home for Hispanic voters.

"Democrats are showing up in what is traditionally sacred space for Hispanics," said Simon Rosenberg, NDN's president, who was in town for the Kos conference. "We think this is going to be a deeply powerful way to speak to Hispanics."

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