Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) formally endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) yesterday amidst the presence of a variety of student Democratic groups in front of the Straight. Voters in 10 states, including New York, go to the polls today with 1,151 delegates’ votes on the line.
During his short speech, Hinchey pointed to Kerry’s plans to reduce unemployment and reform Bush’s tax code and cuts — moves which the Congress member called “repressive.” Hinchey, who first announced his support for Kerry last week, previously backed Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, before he dropped out of the race.
When making the choice between Kerry and main rival Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), Hinchey pointed to the former Vietnam War veteran’s experience in the military and Congress. Although he places both candidates in high regard, Hinchey believes that Kerry’s knowledge in Washington would heavily benefit him as president.
“[President George W. Bush’s] campaign was to be based upon [him] being able to present himself as someone who could defend the country,” Hinchey said. “Kerry, because of his background and experience, will withstand that kind of politics, overcome it and come out ahead.”
Hinchey also took aim at the decisions made by the Bush administration over the past four years. His criticisms ranged from the $160 billion expenditure in a war that the Congress member called “not a war of necessity, [but] a war of choice” to the approximately 3.2 million jobs lost nation-wide during the Texan’s administration.
“George Bush has taken the United States in some very strange directions,” Hinchey said. “America cannot afford to tolerate this kind of leadership very much longer.”
While a group called Bush Must Go handed out fliers encouraging students to vote against Bush, the Cornell Students for Edwards had a table across from Hinchey’s podium informing students about positive characteristics that the North Carolina senator possesses, according to Michael Akavan ’04, a member of Cornell Students for Edwards.
Even though both groups made their presence felt by independently displaying posters supporting their causes, each group was united in Hinchey’s call for Bush to be thrown out of office.
“Although we have a difference of opinion at the moment, we will all be united … to rid this country of George W. Bush,” Hinchey said to a rousing applause.
Rally members were generally impressed with Hinchey’s promotion of Kerry and his criticism of Bush. Citing the heavy interest in both Edwards’ and Kerry’s camps and in the election, Matt Walker law ’06 said this unity against Bush will benefit the Democratic Party in the long run.
“[Hinchey] laid out the argument for uniting behind the candidate who has the best chance at beating Bush and has a tremendous track record fighting for students and workers, the environment and [a] strong, yet sane foreign policy. [That candidate] is John Kerry,” Peter Romer-Friedman law ’06 said.
The rally was also used to build support for Hinchey’s re-election bid in November. Hinchey has become a strong voice in Congress and will help Kerry in Washington if the experienced senator becomes president, according to Irene Stein, chairperson of the Tompkins Country Democratic Committee.
“Hinchey is known for consistent decisions that benefit most Americans,” Stein said. “He stands for honesty in government when we are being misled by the Bush administration.”
Support for Kerry has been growing over the past weeks as he is considered by many to be the race’s front-runner. In attempting to continue the Massachusetts senator’s momentum in Ithaca, Cornell Students for Kerry members have been going door-to-door over the past week and informing residents that, “Kerry is the best candidate to beat Bush in November,” according to Matt Gewolb ’04, president of Cornell Students for Kerry.
“I think it’s appropriate that the congressman focused a great deal on George Bush’s dismal record, and I look forward to the next few days when all the Democrats on campus, along with Independents and moderate Republicans, unite behind our strongest candidate for president, John Kerry,” Gewolb said.
When the Democratic candidate nominations began, groups in Ithaca pledged their support in mid-January to Gen. Wesley Clark, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Dean. However, when the general and governor ended their campaigns, many Clark supporters switched their allegiance to Kerry, while Dean supporters split between Edwards and the Massachusetts senator.
Archived article by Brian Tsao