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Blind State Rep Uses Humor To Put Others At Ease

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Rep. Torrey Westrom says he hopes his temporary role as House speaker will help motivate others who "have a challenge in their life."

The Elbow Lake Republican led debate Tuesday afternoon on the House floor. The National Conference of State Legislatures says Westrom may be the first blind person in such a leadership role. Westrom says he likes to use humor to make others feel at ease about his handicap. He jokes about driving cars and umpiring for a House-Senate softball game.

After debate on Tuesday, one lawmaker asked for a recorded vote, which requires 10 people to raise their hands in agreement. Westrom joked with his colleagues that he could see 11 hands raised. That brought his fellow representatives to their feet with applause.

The Forum says Westrom lost his sight at age 14 in a car accident.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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