PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- As the GOP reaches out to independents, some delegates to the Republican National Convention want the party to take cues from Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Ventura, the former pro wrestler who defeated two seasoned politicians in 1998 as a Reform Party candidate, says Republicans do seem to be seeking the middle.
"They're definitely trying to make a move to the center," Ventura said in an interview with MSNBC Tuesday night via satellite from northern Minnesota's Iron Range. "They know that they have to do that to win, and probably when the Democratic convention comes on they'll be trying to look Republican."
Ventura turned down at least one invitation to appear in Philadelphia this week. But his name keeps popping up.
Ventura's publisher distributed buttons to promote his upcoming book, a focus group of swing voters panned him in a political version of the hit TV show "Survivor" and MSNBC planned to devote a few minutes of its prime-time coverage to him Tuesday night.
Since arriving in Philadelphia, Minnesota alternate Lois Olson has fielded inquiries from other state's delegates about her governor.
"They all want to know if you like him and how you feel about him," she said.
Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Ron Eibensteiner invoked Ventura without mentioning his name during Tuesday evening's roll call of the states, in which he introduced Minnesota's delegates as being from "the land of 10,000 lakes and one goofy governor."
Ventura 'voted off'
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- In a political version of the popular TV show "Survivor," Gov. Jesse Ventura was figuratively tossed off the island.
Thirty-six swing voters have been gathered to monitor this week's convention, in an effort to gauge how they react to Bush and Gore and what might sway them. In an exercise earlier this week dubbed "Political Survivor," Ventura was among 10 well-known politicians the group voted to "toss out of politics forever."
First to go was Ventura nemesis Pat Buchanan, who virtually forced Ventura out of the national Reform Party. But next to go -- by a large margin -- was Ventura.
Political researcher Frank Luntz, who selected the panelists and has tracked Ventura regularly in focus groups, said he was astonished at the speed and decisiveness with which Ventura was ousted.
"He's become a joke," Luntz said. "When I tested him a year and a half ago, everything he said rated off the charts. People loved him. But he's not viewed seriously anymore."
"Who wants a WWF wrestler in politics?" said panelist Calvin Beasley. "You need a certain amount of seriousness in politics."
He's for Keyes
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- One of Minnesota's 34 delegates to the Republican National Convention broke ranks and cast his vote Tuesday for conservative commentator Alan Keyes over presumed Republican nominee George W. Bush.
Jerry Oliver, of Pelican Rapids, said he voted for Keyes to uphold commitments he made to those Republicans who made him a delegate.
"Personal integrity is always more important than unity. People always need to vote their conscience," he said. "I have nothing against Bush per se."
Keyes, who dropped out of the race and released his delegates to Bush, has enjoyed a strong following among conservatives in Minnesota. He finished second to Bush in the March caucuses with 20 percent of the vote.
Before announcing his delegation's count during the evening's roll call, state GOP Chairman Ron Eibensteiner described Minnesota as "the Land of 10,000 Lakes and one goofy governor" -- a jab at Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Best on Web
Move over Silicon Valley, the Minnesota Young Republican chapter rules the Internet roost.
The chapter earned top honors for the Web site it uses to attract 18-to-40-year-old Republicans, said Brian McClung, Minnesota Young Republican chairman.
McClung said the site (www.mngop.com/yr) helps the chapter put interested Republicans in touch with local party officials.
For the second straight year, the Minnesota group was runner-up for the chapter of the year award. This year it went to Texas.
"They kind of had an inside edge," McClung said, referring to the home state of Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
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