Last week, Gov. Brian Schweitzer served his brand of folksiness to the nation. He took the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., to the tune of the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Running" and regaled his audience with phrases like "burr under my saddle," "get 'er done" and the oft-repeated "that dog don't hunt."
Some Montanans might have rolled their eyes, but word is Dems from everywhere else ate it up.
Schweitzer laid the Mitt Romney critique on thick. The speech's goal seemed two-fold: plug President Barack Obama and show that under a Schweitzer administration, Montana has done better than most.
Schweitzer was just one of several prominent Montana personalities to appear before the liberal masses in Charlotte. Many more were in attendance behind the scenes. State Rep. Ellie Hill, who traveled to the DNC from Missoula, says liberals were enamored of the Montana delegation. They expressed a lifelong appreciation for Sen. Max Baucus and were "dewy-eyed" over Sen. Jon Tester. Schweitzer was "literally a rock star."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, a former teacher and the first Native American woman to win a statewide election, raised considerable applause while highlighting the steps the Obama administration has taken to improve educational opportunities and, as a result, the lives of tribal members nationwide. Obama visited the Crow Indian Reservation during his 2008 campaign, she reminded the DNC, and became an adopted member of the tribe.
Anaconda native and NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan addressed the issue of "what's at stake for women in 2012." Her speech on reproductive healthcare and women's rights even included a few subtle digs at Rep. Todd Akin. "Rape is rape," she said, and when it comes to a woman's decisions regarding her reproductive health, politicians shouldn't be involved. "Especially if those politicians don't know how a woman's body works."
"The 'Montana mafia,' as I heard other states collectively refer to us, was truly the toast of the convention," Hill says.