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As Occupiers Protest Democrats, Democrats Court Occupiers

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus, has spoken with Occupy protesters in D.C., New York and Minnesota and said Democrats need to build up their outreach.

Still, as Rep. Dennis Kucinich pointed out, "What I have seen is Occupy Wall Street has essentially stayed away from politicians."

The Ohio Democrat, a rock star in liberal circles, said he has visited OWS sites in Washington and Cleveland. Rep. Keith Ellison said he has been to sites in Washington, New York and his state of Minnesota to speak to protestors. Ellison, who is a co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus, said Democrats need to kick up their outreach.

"Will they be a voting force? Don't know. I think what they would say is if you give us something to vote for, we'll vote," Ellison said. "So we've got to be fighting for the issues that we all know we need to fight for."

The 77-member Congressional Progressive Caucus is set to unveil a broad economic plan next week that aides say will address some of the OWS concerns, including the rising number of foreclosures and unemployment among younger workers.

Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson said he plans to launch a group in the coming weeks that will touch on the issue of corporate influence in the political process.

"Yes, there clearly are threads that connect," the Connecticut Democrat said. "The thing about the occupy group is it shows a frustration in a lack of jobs and a frustration in a lack of fairness."

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