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The Trail

"The Delaware Democratic Party has been my family," an emotional Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) tells delegates from his home state. (By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images)
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"This sounds like more of the Bush White House plan: acknowledge the problem as real, but propose no serious solutions to deal with it," Karpinski said in a phone interview from Denver, where he was attending the Democratic National Convention.

-- Juliet Eilperin

TOUGH TO RELATE

Pa. Governor Offers A Slice of Advice

DENVER -- Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell captured the jitters of the Democratic Party on Tuesday when he conceded that for all of Barack Obama's gifts, "he's not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with" and urged the presumptive nominee to start punching back against Republican attacks.

In a wide-ranging interview, Rendell insisted that while Obama still has not won over perhaps 30 percent of those who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries, he will have locked down 95 percent of them after Clinton's address to the convention. But Rendell, a strong Clinton supporter during the primaries, made it clear he thinks Obama still has work to do with the white, working-class voters who backed her.

"With people who have a lot of gifts, it's hard for people to identify with them," Rendell said. "Barack Obama is handsome. He's incredibly bright. He's incredibly well-spoken, and he's incredibly successful -- not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with."

For a politician cut from a rougher cloth, Rendell may have offered a backhanded compliment when he compared Obama to Adlai Stevenson, the failed Democratic candidate from the 1950s who captured the imagination of American intellectuals but not the electorate at large.

"He is a little like Adlai Stevenson," Rendell mused. "You ask him a question, and he gives you a six-minute answer. And the six-minute answer is smart as all get-out. It's intellectual. It's well-framed. It takes care of all the contingencies. But it's a lousy sound bite.

"We've got to start smacking back in short, understandable bites," he said, noting, "Everybody is nervous as all get-out. Everybody says we ought to be ahead by 10, 15 points. What the heck is going on?"

For all that worry, Rendell's prognosis for Obama is good, at least in his crucial state. The addition of Scranton-born Joseph R. Biden Jr. to the Democratic ticket probably pads Obama's thin lead by two percentage points, Rendell said, and the economy will ultimately persuade people to look beyond personality, background and race to focus on policy.


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