Carnegie Mellon was the site of a campaign rally Tuesday, Sept 28 as John Edwards, vice presidential candidate and North Carolina senator, spoke in Weigand Gymnasium.
Lines for the event formed early, with people sporting posters with slogans like "Kerry us" and t-shirts stating "Teamsters for Kerry." Tickets were distributed by the Kerry campaign. The gym was packed, with little standing room remaining.
Tom Flaherty, Pittsburgh's controller, talked before Edwards arrived about the importance of Pittsburgh to the election, referring to Carnegie Mellon as the "economic powerhouse of southwest Pennsylvania."
"You [students] are the soldiers, the people who are going to change things," he said.
Jack Shae, the leader of the Allegheny County Labor Council, spoke next. He stressed three things: "jobs, jobs and jobs."
Shae also spoke strongly of his desire to get Bush out of office, claiming "we beat Bush in 2000 … by over 500,000 votes."
Dan Onorato, the chief executive of Allegheny County, talked about health care, while Congressman Mike Doyle talked about domestic and foreign policy. Doyle aimed a zinger at Bush, comparing him to an alcoholic and saying that Bush has to admit that there's a problem in our country; that's the first of twelve steps. The crowd of supporters cheered after many of the statements.
Finally, John Edwards entered to great applause with his guest, Kristin Breitweiser, a strong proponent of the 9/11 commission. Before taking questions from the audience, Edwards talked about the war on terror.
"When John Kerry is president, we will find where the terrorists are and question them," he said.
Edwards criticized Bush's handling of world security. He referred to Bush's declaration of an "axis of evil" and said Bush has focused solely on Iraq.
"Both of them [Iran and North Korea] are moving forward [with nuclear arms], and the threat is growing every single day," Edwards said. "Again, you don't hear George Bush talking about it because they've not taken the steps necessary to confront those threats, to deal with those threats."
Edwards stressed the need for more support at home, especially to protect our borders and ports, police, and fire fighters. Edwards said we also need to safeguard our nuclear and chemical plants while alertingthe public on how to safely act in the event of a terrorist attack.
"People in communities need to know exactly what you're supposed to do when a terrorist attack occurs in you community…Most people have no idea, no idea what you're supposed to do. That's a failure in presidential leadership."
Breitweiser, Edwards's guest, lost her husband in the attackson September 11th. Since then, she has turned the 9/11 tragedy into a crusade, ensuring that the president followed through with the creation of a commission. Breitweiser advocated improved national security, and attended many meetings on the topic, but was never able to meet with President Bush, whom she said was against her cause. Once the 9/11 Commission's report was published, Bush supported some of its propositions, often creating his own versions of their suggestions, according to Breitweiser.
She said, "in my heart, I know we will be safer with John Edwards and John Kerry." The floor was then opened for questions. Eric Johnson-David Williams, an attendee of the meeting, proposed a unique plan of restoration of Iraq. Even though Edwards didn't agree, he silenced dissenters in the crowd and let him speak. Edwards said the future administration can't withdraw the troops from Iraq. According to Edwards, Bush created a mess in Iraq, and our job is to increase the likelihood of Iraqi democracy and decrease Iraq's burden on our troops and nation before withdrawal is possible.
"I enjoyed [the town meeting] very much," said Bob Wellman, a 63-year-old attendee. "We are being confronted with a president who's never met a lie he didn't like. And I thought one of the most telling things about this particular meeting was the fact that there was that young man who had a very controversial position on what should happen to Hussein [that he should be reinstated] and he [the young man] was allowed in there. He had a chance to speak…he [Edwards] gave him a lot of time to state his position."
Edwards was asked to explain his position on the closing of satellite Veterans service offices, despite the fact that we have many disabled soldiers coming home from Iraq in need of care. Edwards, first summing up Bush's position, said that "Bush has consistently favored cutting veterans' budgets.… Kerry is the one candidate for president who has led men in battle; veterans will have support. You'll be there for us, and we'll be there for you."
A discussion of health care ensued. According to Edwards, Bush's health care plan has been "pray you don't get sick." Kerry, on the other hand, believes that the same health care available for US senators should be available for everyone, and children should be covered under all circumstances, similar to the guarantee of public school education.
"When John Kerry's president, we're going to immediately go to work on this health care plan," said John Edwards. "We're going to allow prescription drugs safely into this country from Canada. We're going to use the market power of our government to negotiate a better price, a discount, for the drugs in the Medicare prescription drug program."
And contrary to Bush's reducing of funds for senior health care services, Kerry and Edwards believe and know that seniors need ongoing care, and should not be forgotten.
Then, Edwards responded to the Patriot Act and a statement by Bush that dissent equals un-patriotism, by saying that he and Kerry know that changes and revisions are needed and will be made to ensure that people's individuals liberties are not stepped on. He also said that dissenters are necessary for our country's existence, just as when it was founded.
On the topic of the environment, Edwards argued that Bush was wrong to have disengaged from the Kyoto Protocol. Although the Kyoto agreements weren't perfect, Edwards said, "we have to be strong and leading." He also stressed energy independence and less reliance on oil.
Edwards talked about the outsourcing of future jobs, noting that Bush has lost over 2 million jobs and is the first president since Herbert Hoover not to produce new jobs. The Kerry administration will get rid of tax cuts for outsourcing and create incentives for small companies to move where jobs have been lost. Edwards alsostressed the issue of low wages:
"There's a difference between having a job and having a job that can support your family."
Kerry and Edwards also want to ensure that deserving kids can go to college, setting up programs so that four years of public service guarantees a college education.
Edwards ended the question session by talking about women's equality. He stressed how women should receive equal pay for the same job. He talked about some of George W. Bush's ads featuring women who are pleased with his stance on the important issues and are going to vote for Bush.
Edwards laughed and said, "Why in the world a woman would vote for George Bush is completely beyond me!"
At that point Edwards signaled that he was finished, and the crowd stood up and applauded. After a short standing ovation, numerous people lined up to shake Edwards' hand.
Janet Jay, a self-identified disabled student and HSS sophomore, was very pleased with Edwards's handling of the health care issue and many of his other ideas for the future administration.
"Even though I was already planning on voting for Kerry, this really energized me…. It gave me confidence that they're going to win because I saw how well spoken he was and I saw what control of the issues he has."
On 10/12/04 at 4:04 pm, sammy sam posted:
Why anybody would vote for Kerry is beyond me.
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