CANDIDATE DOES HIS BEST TO SWING VOTE
by Bryan Gentry and Steven Anderson
Slideshow in Power Point
Joe Biden speaks at Longview’s Recreation Center (Jordan Lee/The Current).
Democratic Vice President elect Joe Biden rallied liberals and persuaded moderates at a last minute rally at Longview Community College Recreation Center one day before the national election.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II
Biden was accompanied by his wife Dr. Jill Biden, Senator Claire McCaskill, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, and state candidates Sam Page for lieutenant governor, Chris Koster for attorney general, and Clint Zweifel for treasurer.
“What a great way to start the week in eastern Jackson County,” said McCaskill as she introduced Jill Biden who then introduced her husband.
As the crowd chanted “Joe, Joe, Joe!” Biden took the stage and made the Obama-Biden message clear, “Change is on the way!”
“We are on the cusp of a new brand of American leadership, because that’s what we need,” Biden exclaimed to the crowd of about 1250. “We have the opportunity to change our circumstances and change them we will!”
Biden reminded the audience that education is an important platform for Democrats this year.
He said, “Any country that outeducates the U.S. can outcompete the U.S., and we cannot allow that to happen.”
Jill Biden spoke about Longview's national reputation (Jordan Lee/The Current).
Although the college did not endorse the visit due to its non-partisan status as a public institution, there was an implied connection. Jill Biden’s tie to community colleges is well known. Being an English professor at the Stanton/Wilmington campus of Delaware Technical & Community College, Jill Biden talked about her belief in a strong education in America.
She congratulated Longview on being the first community college named a College of the Year in 2001 by TIME Magazine/The Princeton Review.
When Joe Biden took the stage, he alluded to his wife’s statement congratulating Longview President Fred Grogan, “Number one is pretty darn good, man. You’ve got the best students in America.”
Biden went on to say, “What a beautiful, beautiful campus.”
Democrats in attendance spoke powerfully about the Nov. 4 election. McCaskill praised Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as a running mate and attacked the GOP candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin.
McCaskill said, “In that process, [I believe] Barack Obama showed the kind of judgment we need as the President of the United States of America. Barack Obama chose the very best person… And, well, let’s just say John McCain didn’t.”
Biden talked about the changes needed in creating new jobs and better health care. He said Americans should respect those who serve in the military, but they also have to find other ways to serve the nation.
“When this election is over,” he said, “we have to unite this country. A country divided cannot lead the world. We need Republicans in the Congress to join us.”
Biden ended his remarks with a campaign slogan, “It’s our time. It’s America’s time to take back this country!”
Those in attendance were extremely excited about the visit.
“He’s a good guy,” Longview student Bonard Chery. “He has a good plan for everybody. Everybody needs a good job and better education. We all need change!”
The event did not come without some opposition. The rally raised concerns from faculty for a few reasons.
Longview’s chairman of the division of social sciences, Dr. Elliott Schimmel, a self-proclaimed Democrat, is one who opposed the Biden rally.
“I know that other institutions around the nation do this, but it just seems academic institutions should not be tied to partisan purposes,” Schimmel said, “especially during a time when classes are being held.”
“What about parking [problems]?” math instructor Suzanne Smith asked. “I don’t think this is fair to our students and teachers to allow this at such late notice.”
Humanities Chair Grahn, right (Jordan Lee/The Current)
However, humanities chair Diana Grahn smiled as she left the rally, “It was interesting that Jill Biden had informed Joe Biden about our College of the Year status which recognized our efforts in writing across the curriculum.”
Melissa Nitti, regional press secretary for the Obama-Biden campaign, said that Lee’s Summit, a swing area that went Republican in the last two elections, was picked for the rally to bring the Democrats’ message to the undecided in this locale.
The gymnasium was rented by the campaign, and the event was totally under the management of the Democratic Party. No college arrangement, except for parking considerations, was involved.