GW College Democrats attended a meeting of the Democratic National Committee Saturday morning with chapters from five other area schools in a strong show of support for the Democratic Party.
Vice President Gore, Rev. Jesse Jackson and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (Mo.) were among the party leaders who spoke at the event.
Almost 200 CDs, 50 of whom were from GW, attended the event at the Washington Hilton in northwest D.C.
“I felt good that we were able to bring such a large contingent of (GW) CDs to see these speakers,” said Andrew Agetstein, events director for the GW CDs.
Agetstein said part of getting GW students involved in the Democratic Party is bringing party leaders to GW, but that goal is not always attainable.
“A big problem this year is getting political figures to come to campus,” he said. “It’s an election year and Congress recesses Oct. 9; everyone goes home to campaign for themselves or for other candidates.”
Agetstein also said the political turmoil surrounding President Clinton has scared many political figures away from speaking engagements where they may be questioned about the scandal.
“If they won’t come to us . we’ll go to them,” he said.
GW Democrats, who accounted for nearly a fourth of the CDs present at Saturday’s event, gave an enthusiastic welcome as Gore came onstage.
“We can’t do it without you,” Gore said to the young Democrats, prompting a standing ovation from DNC members.
DNC members said poor voter turnout among young voters, specifically college students, is a major concern of the party and the nation.
Harold Powell, national president of College Democrats of America, said the organization is instrumental in motivating college students to vote. It also trains them in grassroots activism and delivers the Democratic Party message to young people.
“We represent the issues that are important to students,” Powell said, highlighting environmental protection, student financial aid and the future of Social Security as chief concerns.
GW junior Ed Dimarzio, who was recently elected CDA national director for legislative affairs, said he informs College Democrats on more than 1,500 campuses nationwide about current legislation in Congress.
“When we put the serious issues of the future on the forefront and make people realize what these elections are really about, they’ll vote Democratic,” Dimarzio said. “It’s simple – Democrats win when it comes to the issues.”
Gore and Gephardt also shared their visions for the Democratic Party, and said they hope for a return to a Democratic majority in Congress.
But Gore said Clinton’s leadership has been “good for our nation” and the presidency is the “heart of all that the Democrats have achieved” despite recent political problems facing the president.
Jackson also spoke at the event, citing Clinton’s foreign policy in Asia and Africa as among the reasons young Americans support the Democratic Party.