The line stretched all the way to Craig Street Wednesday Oct. 20 as people waited to attend a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. When the event started a little after five o'clock, people were still waiting to get in. The rally was co-sponsored by Carnegie Mellon's Activities Board, College Democrats, and Student Government.
Before the rally began, a few of the speakers walked through the crowds welcoming people and signing autographs as Liz Berlin and Jen Wertz of the band Rusted Root provided preliminary entertainment. Someone dressed as Abraham Lincoln worked the crowd as Congressman Joe Hoeffel and football hall-of-famer Franco Harris shook hands. The rally began with an upbeat version of the Star Spangled Banner by a trio of female singers, followed by the first female Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, Catherine Baker. She, and many of the other speakers, stressed the importance of the collegiate vote, emphasizing that "we need to vote for a rebirth of unity."
Sala Udin, the district six Pittsburgh City Councilman, spoke about health care and flu shots. He was followed by City Controller Tom Flaherty and State Representative Dan Frankel talked of the importance for young people in Western Pennsylvania to vote. The next two speakers, Senator Jack Wagner and Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President William "Billy" George, focused on the loss of jobs in America, asking the crowd, "Does George Bush care? No!"
Congressman Hoeffel spoke next about his campaign for US Senate and his willingness to work with Kerry if he is elected president. He talked about the present administration:
"They've taken us to war without a plan for peace…. A change is going to come."
The president of the College Democrats, Jonathan Mendelson, spoke next, telling students it is important they vote and that politics do affect students.
Ted Danson, actor and Carnegie Mellon alumnus, spoke primarily about the environment and the degree to which it has degraded; according to Danson, "[our time on this planet's] about taking care and nurturing what God gave us."
He also said that there weregood Republicans — his father being one of them — "back when they cared about the environment and conservation." Danson said his father would be horrified by the current state of the planet and what the current administration has done to it. He also told the crowd to talk to any swing voters, stressing the environment's effects on children and pregnant mothers.
Franco Harris spoke after Danson and thanked God that our Constitution allows us to remove a bad administration after four years.
He said, "It's time for George Bush to go…when a government starts to promote hatred, starts to divide our country, starts to take away liberties, then we're going in the wrong direction." He also spoke about the importance of the college generation in repairing our future.
Jon Bon Jovi arrived on stage a little after Harris. After his first song, he paused to speak briefly to the crowd, and then continued with "No Surrender," a song he referred to as "John's rally cry" and which he'd never performed before.
Teresa Heinz Kerry, Kerry's wife, preceded the Senator. Sensing the anticipation in the crowd, she spoke briefly. She talked about the colleges of Pittsburgh and reasons to vote for her husband.
"John Kerry represents the future of this country and the future possibilities for the world."
Kerry then arrived to great applause. He spoke with confidence about winning the election, and talked about his wife and her many interests, which he says are necessary for a first lady. Kerry talked about the Red Sox as well, calling them "an October surprise." In thanking some of the other speakers, he talked about Franco Harris's "Immaculate Reception" in the 1972 AFC Championship Game," noting that the odds for that catch were one in a million, which he claimed were the same odds of receiving a flu shot from the current administration.
He also talked about Bon Jovi's songs, saying that Bon Jovi unknowingly wrote them about the current administration's policies: "Bad Medicine" about Bush's health care plan, and "Living on a Prayer" about Bush's economic plan. Kerry then talked about the past four years and said that America's policies have been retrogressive and threaten our future. He pointed out many of the current administration's problems.
"Are you ready for common sense in America's foreign policy? ... Are you ready to put America back to work? ... Help is on the way," he said.
Kerry stressed the need to reclaim America's future and to change many of the health care policies that George W. Bush has implemented. He spoke of Bush's policies as failed and damaging and said they don't express understanding of the public, but rather understanding of the big companies.
"We need a President who's going to be a champion of the middle class."
According to Kerry, Bush and Vice President Cheney are trying to scare America into voting for them and attempting to stop America from thinking. Kerry said they've skewed his health care plan and don't want to talk about the issues that matter to the American people. Kerry spoke about Bush's inability to speak about his own policies, forcing him to attack Kerry in an attempt to make him appear equally unacceptable.
"He [Bush] can't come here to Pennsylvania and tell you about all the jobs he's created…He can't tell you that he has made America safer…He doesn't have a record to run on; he has a record to run away from."
Kerry stressed his passion for defending the United States as similar to his passion for serving in the Vietnam War and his ability to fight a better war against terror that actually makes us safer. Kerry then talked about the building of alliances, promising to restore respect for America and safety.
Kerry spoke about the need for a President that believes in science, and the increase in prices of everything except wages. He talked about his plans for putting money in the pockets of middle and lower class Americans, speaking about his plan for a tuition tax cut and full child health care coverage. He also spoke about restoring pay-as-you-go government spending, closing the deficit gap, and rolling back some of the President's tax cuts:
"I want a tax system that's fair; I want an economy where Americans aren't just working for the economy, but the economy is working for Americans."
Kerry also spoke about the dropout rates in schools and the amount of money that is paid to support those dropouts. According to Kerry, instead of paying $50,000 a year for the life-long housing of younger prisoners, we should be investing $10,000 a year in Head Start programs.
He then switched his focus to the environment and science, vowing to recommit America to research, development, and exploration. He also pledged to find cures for diabetes, Alzheimer's, or Parkinson's, and to promote stem-cell research. According to Kerry, 44 percent of our bodies of water are not fit for humans to fish or swim.
Kerry spoke of new jobs to clean-up and prevent future environmental damage. He also set a goal so that "by the year 2020, 20 percent of America's electricity is going to be provided from alternative and renewable resources." According to Kerry, America can't drill its way out of its dependence on oil, but it can invent a way out of it.
In closing, he asked Pennsylvania for help, not to help him, but to help ourselves and our country. He stressed the need for everyone to vote and recounted a message from a woman at another rally:
"She said, 'Senator, we've got your back.' Let me tell you folks. Thirteen days from now, at the end of the day, I want to be able to stand up on that evening, and I want to stand up every single day and go to that Oval Office and for everything that makes a difference to the quality of our lives and to the future of this country, I want to be able to look America in the eye, and I want to be able to tell you, 'I've got your back.'"
10/29/04 Correction: This article originally identified Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President William "Billy" George as the national AFL-CIO's President John J. Sweeney.
On 10/28/04 at 8:08 pm, Richard Montgomery posted:
What is of particular interest to me is, Why in God's name would anyone choose to elect John Kerry to be President? The man who becomes President also becomes this country's Commander and Chief. To be the Commander and Chief of the military forces of America, I believe an absolute requirement must be that the man being picked has received an HONORABLE DISCHARGE, assuming he has previously served in the military. John Kerry does NOT meet that requirement. The truth of the matter is, John Kerry's "honorable" discharge only came about as a result of a Presidential amnesty. He was originally "dismissed" from the service, receiving a "less than honorable" discharge. The very fact that Senator Kerry has done everything in his power to prevent the American people from learning the truth of his military disgrace, disqualifies him from the office.
On 10/28/04 at 8:08 pm, Richard Montgomery posted:
The truth about John Kerry is that he is, in fact, a disgrace to his uniform. I don't say that lightly. I am not trying to throw about some sophomoric rhetoric. It's an undeniable fact. When John Kerry left the military, he did so as a result of an "INVOLUNTARY SEPARATION." In layman's terms that means, he was kicked out! Senator Kerry received a "less than honorable" discharge. Today, the senator always insists he was discharged "honorably." But, the facts clearly prove that any Honorable discharge held by Kerry, only came about as a result of a Presidential amnesty. The truth of the matter is that Kerry doesn't begin to qualify for the job as Commander and Chief.
On 10/31/04 at 1:01 pm, Jack Kessler posted:
_Not_ the truth of the matter... The truth of the matter in fact is that Kerry is a Vietnam war hero who "dissented" from the Establishment view. Thomas Jefferson was a dissenter, also Ben Franklin, also George Washington... Our freedom to disagree with The Establishment is American -- is the essence of America -- and attempts to muzzle disagreement are not. Kerry disagreed with the Establishment about Vietnam, back then, and he was brave to do so and it turned out he was right. He disagrees with the Bush Administration now, and so do most Americans. But the Bush clique has captured the GOP, and now they're trying to muzzle the rest of us -- So get ready for in-person challenges _inside the polling stations themselves_!: today's 10/31 SF Chronicle says, p. A13 [Excerpts:] "Federal judges are expected to rule Monday on whether and how Republicans may challenge voters' qualifications at the polls in two key states. Democrats say planned voter challenges in Ohio and Florida may target minority voters or cause chaos and long lines at voting stations. "In-person challenges are allowable in both states... The question is whether the party may approach voters individually at the polls to question their eligibility. "Three Ohio judges take up various aspects of the question Monday..." Jessie Jackson and Lanny Davis advised students at Pitt, on 10/28, as follows ("Lanny Davis, former special counsel to former President Clinton from 1996 to 1998") -- > "If someone challenges you at the polls on Election Day, you must challenge the challenger," Davis said. He promised that there would be a lawyer associated with the Kerry campaign at every polling place in Pennsylvania to assist voters with problems. > Jackson recalled the efforts and sacrifices of civil rights activists Medger Evers and Nelson Mandela "all for the right to vote." > "We have won battles over allowing people to vote," Jackson said, citing past battles to allow minorities and youths to cast ballots. "They used to say 18-year-old men were old enough to fight in a war, but not old enough to vote." > Jackson believes the current issue plaguing students is voting while at school when they are unable to return home. > "You have the right to vote where you attend school," Jackson said. > Both Jackson and Davis emphasized that voters who encounter problems should demand to fill out a provisional ballot and get a receipt for it before leaving the polls. > http://www.pittnews.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/10/29/4181ab74979d4 So if you or others get challenged by someone: there should be lawyers who are on your side, and pollwatchers and vote inspectors, somewhere inside of your voting station -- find one to help you -- and if they aren't there, or if they don't in fact help you, and if nothing else works and people still won't let you vote, then demand a provisional ballot yourself, and when you submit it demand a receipt, and hold onto that receipt, and then tell your political party's office what happened... But don't -- and don't let others -- fall for these last-minute smears. With too little time left for voters to factcheck, GOP desperados are flooding the Web and mass media now with these unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo smears. Common sense answers most of these. But these smears are not the issue. The issue on Tuesday is: Bush got us into our current mess / Kerry can get us out of it / anybody could do a better job than Bush has -- that plus maybe a few pathetic last-minute efforts at voter intimidation, sadly... So be sure to vote! And vote for Kerry!
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