September 9, 2004

Meeting for Kerry Draws Crowd

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Students for John Kerry had their first meeting for the semester last night, with organizers pleased at the attendance of just under 100 people.

With the presidential election only 54 days away, an enthusiastic crowd attended Kaufmann Auditorium for the meeting, which focussed on upcoming events including voter registration drives and fundraising activities.

Elliott Klass ’05, co-president of Students for Kerry, opened the meeting by stating the organization’s commitment to “doing everything to make sure George Bush is not the president for the next four years.”

The 315-member organization is strongly aligned with the Cornell Democrats, with some joint board-member meetings planned for the two groups. However, Nina Fixell ’07, co-president of Students for Kerry, said they wanted to involve a diverse range of people in the organization.

Fixell said, “People just seem really enthused and really ready to work hard.”

“This might be one of the most important elections we see in our lifetime,” she added.

Klass said he was “really happy with the number of people who turned out. Everyone is extremely enthusiastic.”

The crowd was given the opportunity to add to a “love-hate” list that included why they loved Kerry and hated Bush. Some audience members suggested Kerry was strong on healthcare and environment issues.

Mitch Fagen ’07, vice-president of the Cornell Democrats, said Kerry’s healthcare plan will “cover a lot of people who don’t have healthcare now.”

Though he was not at the meeting, Mike Lepage ’05, chair of the Cornell College Republicans, criticized Kerry’s healthcare policy, describing Bush’s policy as “much more cost effective,” and better able to “preserve individual freedom.”

Some other issues to come out of the “love-hate” list included gay marriage, Kerry’s pro-choice stance and the war in Iraq. “A thousand Americans have died in Iraq and we’ve spent 200 million dollars there,” Fagen said.

Lepage said he agreed that Iraq was a big issue in the upcoming election and that the war on terror was the most important issue facing the American people at the moment. “Bush has handled it very well since 9/11,” Lepage said.

Kerry has recently received a lot of criticism from the President for “flip-flopping” on the Iraq issue. The New York Times yesterday quoted Vice President Dick Cheney as saying, “It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.”

One audience member at the Students for Kerry meeting responded to Cheney’s attack on Kerry by saying, “Patriotism isn’t the property of the Republican Party,” a declaration that was greeted by applause from those assembled.

Fixell said that because New York is a very safe seat for the Democrats, they would be focussing a lot of energy on Pennsylvania. “Pennsylvania is our adopted swing state and we can have a lot of impact there,” she said.

Students for Kerry will be joining Ithaca for Kerry and the Finger Lakes Election Committee in campaigns in Pennsylvania.

Lepage said that the College Republicans will also be travelling to Pennsylvania to raise support. “We want to do all we possibly can to make sure Bush is reelected,” he said.

Lepage said he is happy with support for the Republicans on campus and that “a lot of people want to see Bush reelected.”

Klass outlined the importance of getting students to register to vote and said that he wanted those people from swing states to register as absentee voters. “This election is really going to hinge on young voters,” he said.

Archived article by James Heath
Sun Contributor