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Obama to speak at North Dakota state convention

FARGO -- The public will have an opportunity to attend presidential candidate Barack Obama's speech in Grand Forks next month.

North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party officials announced Wednesday the Illinois senator is the keynote speaker at this year's state convention.

Obama will help open the three-day convention at the Alerus Center on April 4.

State party officials will release more information next week regarding how the public can attend the event, said Jamie Selzler, executive director of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party.

"We want to do everything we can to allow for as many people as possible to come to the speech," he said.

In a statement, Obama thanked North Dakota's congressional delegation for inviting him to the state.

"Record numbers of North Dakotans turned out to caucus for change on Feb. 5, and I am proud that so many new people became a part of this process," he said.

Obama won 61 percent of the state's Democratic vote during the Feb. 5 caucus.

The state convention is typically the kickoff for statewide and legislative campaigns, Selzler said.

"The fact that Senator Obama is keynoting our convention on the first day will cause a huge level of excitement that will last throughout the weekend," he said.

Also Wednesday, North Dakota Republicans announced U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer is the keynote speaker at their state convention.

The former North Dakota governor will speak at noon March 30, the final day of the three-day convention at the Fargo Holiday Inn.

State Chairman Gary Emineth said the event will allow Republicans to honor Schafer for his work.

"We're just really thrilled about it," he said.

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