Sen. John Kerry, the man who wants you to know he would like to be introduced as the incumbent President of the United States, but, clearly isn't, is in town today stumping and raising dough for his choice for Democratic nominee successor Barack Obama. His day started bright and early by the Animal House set standards with a 9:30 a.m. rally at the Husky Union Building. About 300 students, many baring Obama '08 signs and buttons showed up for the rally.
U.S. Representative Adam Smith kicked off the rally with a quick instructional session on the importance of caucusing reminding the kids, many of whom will be participating in their first presidential election, that Washington may actually matter this year and with relatively low turnout still a given with caucusing, showing up with a few friends who support Obama *cough* *cough* can make a big difference.
Nickels was up next. He opened by saying he was at first in the "waiting for Gore" category, but is now breaking ranks with other state Dem leaders and throwing his lot in with Obama. Not the most glowing endorsement ever, but he was enthusiastic nonetheless.
And then it was the main event, Kerry, tall and lanky, and rather striking strode out to the stage, said he liked Obama so much he was willing to fly six hours to talk for five minutes. His real business in town isn't so much the younger set at the U as the older, wealthier supporters who will be shelling out $500 a plate for a private lunch time fundraiser. Several of his comments seemed to sail past his young audience.
A lot of time was spent dwelling on how Obama's experience in Illinois more than makes up for his shorter Washington resume and how he's older than Kennedy was when he was voted into office. These are all issues Obama and his surrogates have to contend with on the trail of course, but the 18 to 22 set doesn't need so much convincing on the age and experience issues--remember, they're in college, no one takes them seriously, but they know everything, helll-ooo. They totally got it in Soc 101. There were a couple of other moments where Kerry seemed to be gunning for applause on issues like ethics reform and special interests that weren't quite on the audience's radar screen.
What they do care about, a lot, as evidenced by the questions are the Middle East and greenhouse gases and there Kerry managed to land a couple that hit home. Generally there was some laughter, a little applause and no outright groans (except when a corner of the flag backdrop came undone).
Of course, the biggest challenge for this age group isn't so much getting their support as getting them to show up at the caucuses. Apparently someone tipped Kerry off about Sam Reed's publicity campaign for a $9.6 million straw poll, a.k.a. primary election because at the end he told them to ignore Feb. 19th, remember the 9th. "The 19th is a primary that has no effect whatsoever," he said. Hard to misinterpret that, apparently Reed is the only person who thinks this is a good idea.