February 2, 2004

Presidential Race Reaches Ithaca

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Thursday night, Ithaca’s first presidential forum and debate was held at the Women’s Community Building at 100 W. Seneca Street. Local citizens and area legislators spoke for six Democratic primary candidates. Reverend Al Sharpton and Senator Joseph Lieberman’s spokespeople were absent.

This forum, which spanned two hours, was moderated by Eric Lerner, the chair of the City Democratic Committee.

Opening statements were first given, followed by two prepared questions on progressive taxation and the chance of a Democratic Party candidate to beat President George W. Bush in November.

Members of the audience also asked questions.

Statements ranged over a broad reach of issues. Ms. Joan Bokaer, the director of Theocracy Watch at Cornell’s Center for Religion, Ethics & Social Policy spoke for Clark and focused on the importance of national security experience, “70% of the voting public believe national security is vital to this election. Wes Clark will stand up for all and is the only candidate that can beat Bush.”

In closing, Ms. Bokaer quoted Mr. Michael Moore, who has recently endorsed Clark, “We should elect Clark for the sake of the world: a moral imperative.”

Beating President Bush was a pervasive theme throughout the night. The

special interest organization, “Beat Bush!” was in attendance and a representative spoke before opening statements and called for a “Democratic alliance in November to take back the White House.”

Ms. Kathie Kelley, a disabled mother with multiple sclerosis, spoke for the Edwards campaign. “John Edwards gives a message of hope. He has a

plan for the country’s recovery.”

Ms. Kelley said that she, “like Gov. Howard Dean, was quicker to anger and was angry about the Bush White House policies” and how they have negatively affected her.

There were a few tables set up in the back of the large community center

room. Fans and campaign workers distributed stickers and buttons while

spouting the issues and trying to win votes. The “Deaniacs,” in keeping with

the Governor’s recent outburst after the Iowa caucuses, were very animated

and energetic. Yelling “DEAN, DEAN, DEAN!!!”

The more politically extreme Kucinich also had a large and rowdy group. Shannon Delaney ’06 was in attendance, “while the whole forum itself was a bit long, I liked it and will vote for Dean when he wins the nomination.” Her friend, “was a Bush fan.”

John Bishop, associate professor of human resource studies in the ILR school assisted the Clark campaign and also spoke for him.

Lerner was “Happy that this many people came out on such a cold night.” The forum may become a regular event.

Archived article by Kris Reichardt