Democrats rally support for Kerry at convention in Mass.

Fourteen University students arrived at the convention in Boston on Sunday.

Stephanie Kudrle

While in Boston for the Democratic National Convention this week, University political science junior Chris Montana has heard chants supporting presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., break out in the streets and spotted former President Bill Clinton at a party.

“You walk down the street and people start impromptu chants of ‘J.K. all the way,’ ” he said. “We were at Fenway Park yesterday and then we went to a party at a club with the Clintons.”

Fourteen University students are at the convention in Boston. They arrived on Sunday with about 40 other college Democrats from around Minnesota after an 11-day campaign trip.

Montana, chairman of the College Democrats of Minnesota, said he enjoys rubbing elbows with prominent Democrats despite tight security.

“I didn’t know one city could have that many police officers,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s not to a point where it’s prohibitive. People can still get around.”

The Democratic National Convention officially started Monday night with speeches by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., former vice president Al Gore and former president Bill Clinton.

Montana said Clinton was an “electrifying speaker” and likened the convention’s atmosphere to that of a Twin’s playoff game.

“By the time Clinton got off stage, everyone was revved up and waving signs,” he said. “It was insane. Every time you walk in there, it’s like another dimension.”

With Kerry and President George W. Bush in a dead heat, both parties are hoping their national conventions will give their candidates a boost in the polls.

But University political science professor William Flanigan said there will probably be little advantage for either candidate this year.

“It’s not like some years where there’s lots of people undecided,” Flanigan said. “People have pretty much made up their minds on who they’re going to vote for.”

He said Kerry and Bush will likely remain close in the polls until the election.

But any jabs or comments made about Republicans will likely be kept to a minimum during the convention. The Democrats are trying to keep the convention positive, according to the party’s national Web site.

Flanigan said it’s a smart move for the Democrats.

“They have to make a positive appeal, particularly to the undecided voters,” he said. “Being negative may not be particularly appealing.”

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., is also in Boston, although he is not there to rally with the Democrats.

Coleman said in a statement that he is in Boston to talk about Kerry and remind voters about his record.

“Senator Kerry is going through an extreme makeover,” he said. “The most liberal member of the United States Senate is going to try to come out of this week looking differently than when it started.”

It is not unusual for the party to comment on each other’s conventions, but Flanigan said he doesn’t think Republican responses will have much impact on voters.

“Those activities are mainly for the party faithful,” he said.

The Democratic Convention will run through Thursday and will conclude with the likely nomination of Kerry and Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., to run as the Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates.