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Today is the 110th birthday of Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr. Although he was a famed Minnesota Democrat, HHH was born and raised in South Dakota. After working six years in his father's pharmacy, he attended college at the University of Minnesota, earning his undergraduate degree in 1939. Only six years later, he was elected mayor of Minneapolis.

Then, three years after that -- and just 37 -- he prompted a mass walkout of "Dixiecrats" at the 1948 national political convention. He did so by imploring his fellow Democrats to emerge from the cold shadow of states' rights and to walk instead "forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights."

He went on to an illustrious career in the United States Senate; he championed the Great Society as Lyndon Johnson's vice president, and was nominated for president in 1968, losing to Richard Nixon. Along the way, Humphrey became known as a passionate orator and a man of deep convictions. Those two traits could be used against him just as easily, however. For starters, Humphrey's love of speech-making earned him a reputation as a gasbag. (Harry Truman may have called him "Rembrandt with words," but Johnny Carson dubbed him "Minnesota Chats.")

In addition, his longstanding reputation as a man of high principles took a hit when he swallowed his doubts about the Vietnam War while serving as Johnson's veep.

Through it all, Humphrey retained the traits that made him beloved. He was never mean. And in the optimism department he was the equal of Ronald Reagan -- and also Franklin Roosevelt, the original "Happy Warrior." Minnesota Gov. Karl Rolvaag called Humphrey "the happy warrior for our generation" -- and the moniker stuck. We could use a little more of that Humphrey happiness today.

So this morning, let's turn the clock ever-so-briefly back to Nov. 3, 1964. It's Election Day, when voters would sweep Johnson and Humphrey into power in a historic landslide. But it's raining on Humphrey's parade, literally: It's drizzling in Minneapolis when Humphrey and his wife, Muriel, awake in their hotel. They are heading to the town of Waverly, where they had put down roots, to vote.

"When we get to Waverly, they'll be no rain," he confidently told his wife with a twinkle in his eye. "This is St. Hubert's Day!" He was right about that. It was sunny in Waverly, just like Hubert himself. 

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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