Politicians, celebrities canvass student votes
By Michael Riordan, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, September 20, 2012
As the November election approaches, prominent political and entertainment industry figures, including Vice President Joe Biden and actor John Cho, are visiting Dartmouth to motivate young voters on behalf of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. Biden and his wife Jill Biden will be speaking on Friday at 1:15 p.m. on the lawn of Cutter-Shabazz Hall.
Biden will discuss the upcoming presidential election’s effect on middle-class families and Obama’s plan for reducing the national debt “in a balanced way that ensures everyone pays their fair share and still invests in the things we need to create jobs and grow our economy over the long term, like education, energy, innovation and infrastructure,” according to a press release from the campaign to reelect President Barack Obama.
On Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., campaigned for Democratic candidates in front of Dartmouth Hall. The event was coordinated after representatives from Sanders’ office contacted the College Democrats this summer to arrange a campaign rally at the College, College Democrats president Mason Cole ’13 said.
“If the Democrats want the support of working people, they’re going to have stand up and start fighting for working people,” Sanders said at the rally. “Our job is to reelect the president, reelect Democrats and make sure that Republicans do not gain control of the Senate.”
Because the next Congress will address issues that directly affect students, such as creating a public jobs program, fixing college loan rates and strengthening environmental regulations, young voters should be especially invested in this election, Sanders said.
Monica Stretten ’15, who was already planning to vote in this election and said she agreed with the majority of his speech, said that Sanders was “preaching to the choir.”
Stretten said that Sanders did not attempt to moderate his political message because the majority of people at the rally were union members and others already sympathetic to Democratic causes.
As part of a tour of New Hampshire college campuses, actor John Cho canvassed on campus on Sunday with Dartmouth for Obama, a group devoted to supporting the president’s reelection campaign.
“It’s amazing how much power students have in this election,” he said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “I hope they’re aware of the extraordinary opportunity they have to effect change.”
Cho addressed students in One Wheelock and drew on his own personal story to explain how Obama’s education and immigration policies improved the lives of young Americans.
Connie Gong ’15 said she attended the event to see Cho in person and be reassured of her political decision.
“I was going to vote for Obama anyway,” Gong said. “Hearing someone like John Cho articulate why exactly he supports Obama strengthened my intention to get out there and vote.”
Dartmouth for Obama and the College Democrats will continue to collaborate to arrange events on campus while working with the Obama campaign’s statewide organization, Cole said.
“The Obama campaign has its own huge operation unto itself, so we don’t know much in advance,” Cole said. “Once we know who’s coming, we work to build publicity and build awareness.”
Students turned out in record numbers to vote in 2008, according to Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the Obama campaign in New Hampshire. The campaign monitors the efforts made by Democratic clubs on college campuses to register voters and directly contacts students who express interest in volunteering, Kirstein said.
A number of prominent names who visited Dartmouth to support Democratic candidates in 2008 have returned to campus to motivate students this year.
Actor Justin Long, for example, refereed a dodgeball tournament in front of Baker-Berry Library this summer to gather voting pledges from students.
A Pew Research Center poll of 2,424 registered voters released Wednesday shows a decline in interest in the election among voters under the age of 30. Forty-eight percent of young voters said they have given considerable thought to the election, down from 65 percent four years ago.
Representatives from the College Republicans could not be reached for comment by press time.