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former president bill clinton in north dakota Former President Bill Clinton greets a crowd in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on March 17. Clinton was in Grand Forks to speak to the North Dakota Democratic state convention. (Photo: AP Photo/Shawna Noel Widdel)

Election 2012: Clinton Rallies North Dakota Democrats

Former President addresses state party convention

By Aria Wanek | March 20 , 2012

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the finish line is the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. The national convention is where the nominee will be formally selected to run against President Barack Obama in November.

But there are state conventions taking place across the country, too. At these conventions, party leaders gather to decide on candidates for the House of Representatives, the Senate, and state offices.

The North Dakota Democratic Party held its state convention in Grand Forks over the weekend. And while Democratic hopefuls tried to get selected to run for an office, the main event was a speech by a national Democratic leader: President Bill Clinton.

Former President Clinton spoke at the convention on Saturday. This was the first time he had been back to Grand Forks in 15 years. A major flood hit the city in 1997. As President, he toured the damage and sent aid that helped in the rebuilding.

"I really wanted to see Grand Forks again, to see if it had really come back better than I had ever imagined, and it has,” Clinton said at the convention.

Clinton also came to North Dakota to fire up state Democrats — and Democrats all over the country — for the upcoming election.

"We cannot afford to have another election where people are just mad and calling names and lashing out," Clinton said. "When you get really mad, you don't think very well. This needs to be a thinking election."

For Clinton, that means thinking about what Democrats stand for and what Republicans stand for.

“If you believe that tomorrow beats yesterday and you'd rather have renewal than resentment,” then voters should chose Democratic candidates, Clinton said.

He also endorsed North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp, congressional candidate Pam Gulleson, and gubernatorial candidate Ryan Taylor. He said they will look past parties and do what is right for America.

Heitkamp, Gulleson, and Taylor were chosen by party delegates at the convention to run on the Democratic ticket.

“Not just for North Dakota, but for America. You should elect Heidi Heitkamp, Pam Gulleson, and Ryan Taylor," Clinton said. "Your country needs them, along with your state.”

North Dakota Republicans will hold their state convention March 30-April 1in Bismarck. Representative Kristi Noem will be the featured speaker.

State Republicans have already voted in the 2012 presidential primary. The state held its primary on Super Tuesday. Rick Santorum won the North Dakota primary with 40 percent of the vote.

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