- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A former chairman of the Democratic National Committee expects the Hillary Clinton campaign to pivot toward economic issues of employment and income inequality in the final hours of the national convention and coming weeks.

Former Oklahoma Sen. Fred Harris, who led the national party for two tumultuous years after the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, said Thursday that a shift toward the economy could begin with Clinton’s speech to formally accept the presidential nomination.

“Now we are really going to begin to pitch - and this is the way Hillary wins - jobs and the economy,” said Harris from the convention in Philadelphia, where he backed Clinton as a superdelegate from New Mexico. “That’s the way we win these blue-collar men.”

Harris says the convention in Philadelphia set the table for electoral success by showing the “original Hillary Clinton, before she became so guarded.”

He called President Obama’s speech and embrace of Clinton on the convention stage Wednesday something “amazing, terrific and unusual.”

“This has never happened in my lifetime,” said the 85-year-old, who moved to New Mexico to teach political science after running unsuccessfully in 1976 for the Democratic presidential nomination. “Most of the time the new nominee doesn’t want any help, just like Al Gore and Bill Clinton. … I think it was really stirring and effective.”

Harris believes Democrats are leaving the convention more united than they were eight years ago in Denver after the primary showdown between Obama and Clinton. He credits not only Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton but also changes to the Democratic Party platform.

“Bernie says that he got 80 percent of what he wanted in the platform,” Harris said. “He’s right when he says this is the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party, and I agree with that.”

The platform changes include significantly reducing the number of superdelegates, who are unbound by each state’s popular vote. Harris belongs to a small cadre of superdelegates known as distinguished party leaders, but says he would gladly give up the role.

He led efforts more than 40 years ago to rid the Democratic presidential nomination process of superdelegate-style insider control ahead of the 1972 convention, and was surprised when superdelegates were instated in 1984 under rules that made him a delegate for life.

Harris currently oversees a congressional internship and study program that bears his name at the University of New Mexico. His wife, Margaret Elliston, is chairwoman of the Sandoval County Democratic Party.

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