Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak - proud Obamabot - to give Democratic response at next GOP debate


I just read today that Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak will give the Democratic response to the next GOP debate in Des Moines this Saturday. You might want to watch. This guy is the real deal and has been a committed Obamabot since before most of us were paying attention.

Here's a fun story from the way back machine:

In the spring of 2005, a young Illinois senator came to Minnesota to speak at a DFL fundraiser. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, a couple of their top aides and a smattering of kids had 15 minutes to meet with the visitor.

The session turned into a Rybak sales pitch.

"I might have been a little overboard,'' Rybak recalled. "But I was determined to make the most of the time.''

Rybak recalls the session going like this:

"Hi, I'm R.T. Rybak and I want you to run for president.''

The visitor, laughing, said, "Hi, I'm Barack Obama.''

Rybak didn't let up. The others in the room stood a bit back, surprised at Rybak's enthusiastic single-mindedness.

"This would be a true grass-roots movement,'' Rybak said. "This would be from the bottom up.''

Obama explained why such a movement would be difficult. He explained that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be nearly unbeatable. He explained that he had young kids at home. That he'd just won a Senate seat.

Rybak nodded, impatiently. When Obama finished his explanation, there was more conversation.

Rybak: "It's not often a single person with a single action can change the world. I think you can.''

Obama: "Your eyes are really intense.''...

Rybak didn't hear from Obama for several months. But through the summer of 2005, the mayor worked with a loosely connected, national "draft Obama'' movement...

This "ragtag'' movement started a "draft Obama'' web page. Nine months after that first meeting with Obama, Rybak wrote a piece on the site.

"I wrote something like, 'Barack is great but we must remember, this is not about him, this is about leading a movement from the bottom up.' ''

A day later, the phone rang in the mayor's office.

"It's Barack Obama!'' an aide said to the mayor.

They had a conversation that went like this:

Obama: "R.T., it's Barack. I read your post. We're a lot alike.''

Rybak: "Is that because I'm part Kenyan?''

Obama: "You were right. This is not about me. But I can lead a movement to take the country back.''

Rybak: "The second you announce, I'll be ready to support you.''

This past September, Mayor Rybak was chosen to be vice chair of the DNC - filling the spot vacated when Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz became chairwoman of the organization. In talking about his new duties when it comes to the 2012 election, here's what Rybak said.

"This will be a tough re-election," Rybak said, "but I'm so excited about making the case for somebody I believe in."

Rybak rattled off what he considers the highlights of Obama's first term: He "saved" the auto industry, put 30 million people on health care who otherwise would have been uninsured, mended international relationships that had been "horribly" damaged by the previous administration, and set the stage for the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

"I can go on and on," Rybak said. "We need to tell the story of what he's done against incredible odds."

Smart man. Great Mayor. Keep your eye on this guy.


  1. What a great story! Personally, I prefer Obamacrat to Obamabot---though I'm not quite able to articulate why since I understand "bot" is out attempt to co-op disparaging language and use as a point of pride.

    And I just LOVE your countdown clock and hope Chipsticks will put one up on her front page...a reminder of the current exigency, a nudger to action.

    And pleased to spread your detailed, timelined pushback against those carping "it's about time" re the Obama populist message. Some people remain deliberately ignorant so they can bash the man they love to be disappointed by. Shameful, and yes, I see racism and faux-[black] masculinity all over those whistles and groans.

  2. Uh-oh! "out" = "our" and "co-op" = "co-opt" and excitement = mistakes;-) And Obamacrat or Obamabot are both just fine!

  3. Anonymous - I don't know if you saw it, but it was when I read this article that I decided it was time quit fighting and just embrace "Obamabot."

  4. Thank you for the link, Smarty. Although I hadn't seen it, nor an article by Karoli at the same site and in the same vein, I agree with them both--and with a bit more research--could have written them;-) As a gay woman of color I understand where reframing "Obamabot" is coming from and have no desire to eliminate the term as the president's supporters use it. I use it.

    So, I guess what I mean by my comment re "Obamacrat" is that I think President Obama is re-defining what it means to be a Democrat. He is resurrecting its spiritual and positive potential as a governing principle. He reclaimed the party's direction from the DLC during his campaign, and infused it with hope and enthusiasm. He is, with what amounts to an almost single-handed vision--tryng to prove the "can do" by DOING the hard job of governing from core principles of respect and public service for the benefit of the whole American body politic. He is redeeming nationally and internationally the face of America, reinvigorating its soul--the progressive image that attracts those voluntary dreamers to these shores.

    Perhaps I should call myself an Obamacan.

    PS: I did disagree with Ms Simone's notion that the president is not a Liberal, but is Center-Left. During the campaign the president declared to a heckling audience member that he WAS a progressive. Not only do I believe that in terms of his desired policies, I believe that his attempts at cooperative governing IS progressive. He is hammering at the doors of the future of this country by calling on its better angels. I don't blame him for coming up against a hard place, rather I applaud him for meeting it with a spine as solid as a rock.


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