California Democratic Convention, 3 pm

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By Tim Redmond

I'm down in San Diego for the state Democratic convention, which Bob Mulholland, longtime political director for the CA Democratic Party, told me is "the start of the campaign to elect a Democrat to the White House." Seven presidential candidates will be here, more than have ever attended a state convention. California, thanks to the early primary, is very much in play.

"We're going to see the next president speaking here tomorrow," Mulholland told me.

Some reflections:

The event kicks off with state party chair Art Torres holding a press conference that gives him a chance to tlak about how wonderful the state party is. He talks about how he's thrilled to work on a "58-county" strategy -- that is, putitng resources into all parts of the state, the way national chair Howard Dean pushed for spending money in all 50 states. It sounds great -- and in a few minutes, he'll have a chance to completely repudiate that message.

Several reporters ask about impeachment -- which, to judge from the signs and stickers around here is the issue of the day -- and he says that the party's executive commitee is on record supporting impeachment, and that he expects this convention will take a similar stance. I ask him if it isn't contradicatory that the party wants to talk about this issue, but the speaker of the House says it's not on the table.

"No," Torres says. "This is the Democratic Party."

He goes on: "Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the House. We see a distance between the grassroots and the leadership, and that's not unusual."

No, Art, it isn't.