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Cleland coming to Rochester

Campaign leader to address AFL-CIOdelegates

By Matthew Stolle

mstolle@postbulletin.com

Max Cleland, co-chairman of the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign and a former senator from Georgia, will be the featured speaker at a public rally next week in Rochester.

The rally will begin at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial. In the event of rain, it will be at the American Legion, 315 First Ave. N.W.

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Cleland played a center-stage role two weeks ago at the Democratic National Convention by introducing Sen. John Kerry after the Massachusetts senator was nominated as the Democrat's presidential candidate.

Cleland also will address delegates from the Minnesota AFL-CIO, which is holding its annual convention Monday through Wednesday at Mayo Civic Center. More than 600 delegates are expected to attend the convention.

Cleland served in Vietnam, where he lost both legs and his right arm in a grenade explosion. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1997 and was defeated in 2003 by Republican Saxby Chambliss.

On Monday, John Sweeney, president of the national AFL-CIO, will kick off the convention with a 1:15 p.m. address to the delegates. Cleland will address the convention at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. At the end of the convention, delegates are expected to leave Mayo Civic Center to go door-to-door to discuss issues with union members in Rochester.

The AFL-CIO has endorsed the Kerry-Edwards ticket and the atmosphere at the convention is expected to be politically charged with an anti-President Bush feel. A convention highlight, according to the schedule released to the press, will be Sweeney's call for "new leadership in America."

Of particular concern to delegates are changes in overtime rules that "will take overtime away from as many as 8 million Americans. That will be one issue," Diane O'Brien, a spokeswoman for the state AFL-CIO, said.

The public rally was a late-minute change to Cleland's itinerary and another sign that Minnesota is figuring prominently in the political calculations of campaign strategists.

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