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  Madison360: Kohl is of another time, and that’s a good thing
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ContributorHomegrown Democrat 
Last EditedHomegrown Democrat  Sep 16, 2010 07:20am
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News DateThursday, September 16, 2010 11:30:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionJudging from the near-capacity crowd at the Inn on the Park last week, you would have thought the speaker was Bret Bielema, the UW football coach whose annual season preview is always a big draw at Downtown Rotary.

But instead of a hulking 6-foot-3 ex-defensive lineman, the attraction was Wisconsin’s 5-foot-7 senior United States senator, Herb Kohl, making his first appearance in 12 years before Madison’s largest service club.

With a count of 311 Rotarians and guests, it was a big turnout. Not quite a record — the celebrity status of Overture Center architect Cesar Pelli drew nearly 400 a few years ago — but Kohl’s audience size was way above average, says Pat Jenkins, Rotary’s executive director.

For the uninitiated, Downtown Rotary is a retro collection of movers and shakers who sing patriotic songs as well as “Happy Birthday” to fellow members and contribute generously in time and money to the community. Since the long-ago days when I covered Rotary speakers as a young reporter to my current vantage point as a member, the experience hasn’t really changed much. There is a charming air of courtesy and formality that creates a distinctly old-school vibe.

That description also aptly fits Herb Kohl.
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