Although her visit was planned less than 24-hours in advance, students and community members packed the Straight’s Music Room to hear Vanessa Kerry, youngest daughter of democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), speak on behalf of her father. Her visit comes right before Super Tuesday when voters from ten states, including New York, will award 1,151 pledged convention delegates in the Democratic presidential nomination.
Kerry’s last-minute meeting was organized to present her father’s platform to the high density of voters in Ithaca, according to Matt Gewolb ’04, president of the Cornell Students for Kerry. Gewolb said his organization has been in ongoing contact with the senator’s New York campaign office.
Sen. Kerry’s daughter, a third-year medical school student, spoke about a variety issues, but focused intently on encouraging audience members to come out and “make voting sexy again.” Although her father is considered by many to be the front-runner in the democratic primary, Kerry is not counting her chickens just yet.
“I’ve heard a lot of people saying your dad’s got it,” Kerry said. “We can’t think that way; we can’t take anything for granted.”
In addressing issues surrounding the presidential debate, the Yale University graduate took aim at President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, saying that he has ostracized the U.S. from the rest of the world. Taking the U.S.’s current relations with the United Nations and the war on Iraq as examples, she emphasized that there needs to be much rebuilding of America’s image.
“If you think of our foreign policy [recently], we’ve thrown out 40 years of diplomacy in one swoop,” Kerry said. “We’re not doing very much to make friends abroad. In fact, we’re creating a lot of anger.”
Although Kerry opposes Bush’s alleged antagonist foreign policy, she also addressed one of the main issues of contention concerning her father’s record — the Massachusetts senator’s vote for the Iraqi war resolution.
Kerry said that at the time, her father trusted that the president would keep to his word in “exhaust[ing] all of his resources” before going to war. The senator also spoke to officials in the United Nations and submitted a plan concerning Iraq, which would take necessary steps while preventing war at the same time.
While her father was “shocked” when the U.S. states militarily intervened in Iraq, Kerry said that the connections the senator made with members of the international community and the United Nations will provide him with a solid advantage if he becomes president.
“I think he would enter the U.N. with legitimacy already,” Kerry said. “The ability to do that is incredibly important.”
Throughout her talk, Kerry touched upon a variety of issues including her father’s National service plan, his 20-20 initiative which would enforce the use of renewable energy resources by the year 2020 and a proposed health care reform which would make expand services and decrease the cost of aid for Americans.
“We treat healthcare as a privilege and not a right in this country,” Kerry said.
In addressing questions from audience members, she dispelled concerns surrounding the lack of support from moderate and independent groups for her father, saying that his values and ideals have already appealed to some groups and will attract more as the election proceeds. Kerry also addressed Ralph Nader, the former Green Party candidate who announced his intention to run for president last week.
Nader was accused by many groups of stealing costly votes from then Democratic presidential candidate, Al Gore, in the 2000 election. However, Kerry thinks that because of her father’s strengths and a strong popular dislike for Bush, Nader will not be a factor in the next election.
“I think the Democratic Party will unite very strongly around their democratic nominee,” Kerry said. “I really feel there is so much frustration with this president.”
The 26-year-old Kerry, who has taken the past few months to campaign around the nation on behalf of her father, said that although the senator instilled values such as persistence and courage, she also considered him a “goofball,” who enjoys to joke around — a plus considering the seriousness of his job.
Kerry’s personable nature and enthusiasm seemed to strike a note with audience members, including Miriam Pansker ’04, who prior to the event had not heard much about the Massachusetts senator’s platform. Pansker said that she thought Kerry’s down-to-earth nature was advantageous in presenting the issues.
“I was very impressed,” Chelsea Mullen ’07 said. “She was very personable and would make a great representative for the White House and our generation.”
In garnering support for Kerry’s father, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) declared his intention to back the Massachusetts senator last week. Hinchey and other local and student leaders will hold a 12 p.m. rally today at the Straight to formally announce his decision, according to Dan Lamb, district representative for Congress member Hinchey.
Archived article by Brian Tsao