Beavers coach introduces Michelle Obama


Oregon's profile at the Democratic National Convention may have reached its apogee Monday night, when Michelle Obama was introduced by her older brother.

Craig Robinson is the new basketball coach at Oregon State who took time out from rebuilding a suffering team to appear in Denver to advance the possibility that his brother-in-law, Barack Obama, could be elected president.

"If you're looking for a political analysis based on his playing, here it is," Robinson said. "He's confident but not cocky, he'll take the shot if he's open, he's a team player who improves the people around him, and he won't back down from any challenge."

Robinson's remarks were mostly about his sister, who has been criticized as unpatriotic by supporters of Republican nominee John McCain.

Though Michelle Obama rose from a family of modest means to attain a law degree from Harvard, Robinson focused more on the values instilled by their parents, and how his sister ultimately left a corporate law firm to work in her community.

"When we were young kids, our parents divided the bedroom we shared so we could each have our own room. Many nights we would talk when we were supposed to be sleeping. My sister always talked about who was getting picked on at school, or who was having a tough time at home," Robinson recalled. "I didn't realize it then &

but I realize it now &

those were the people she was going to dedicate her life to: the people who were struggling with life's challenges."

Robinson, wearing a Beaver-orange tie, added that it was his sister who encouraged him to leave his job in investment banking and return to teaching and coaching.

"And today," he said. "I'm proud to be the coach of the Oregon State men's basketball team. Go Beavers!"

Another Oregonian who will be prominent at the convention is House Speaker Jeff Merkley, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Gordon Smith. Merkley speaks Wednesday along with other Democrats seeking to beat Republican incumbent senators.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a strong backer of Sen. Hillary Clinton, said over the weekend that he would skip the convention to hold a conference on energy. The state has 65 delegates.

Although there remained questions about how far some Clinton supporters would go to show their anger, Clinton backers such as 63-year-old Judy Sugnet of Salem said their ranks were closed.

"I will do whatever my candidate tells me to do," the retired state employee said.

"Personal agendas are subordinate to whatever your candidate wants you to do," Sugnet said. "Even if we are not as enthusiastic as others are about Obama, we are not voting for John McCain."

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