Members of the GW College Republicans and GW College Democrats rallied from opposite sides of the street outside Vice President Al Gore’s home at the Naval Observatory Saturday to voice their opinions about Florida vote recounts.
Groups of GW students – joined by allies from Georgetown and Catholic universities – waved signs and urged cars to honk for their cause at the vice president’s mansion at 3450 Massachusetts Ave.
About 30 CRs began demonstrating at about 10 a.m., seeking an end to the Florida vote recounts, particularly the hand recounting in a few Florida counties, and calling for the declaration of Texas Gov. George W. Bush as president.
Across 34th Street, about 45 College Democrats countered the Republican protest by defending Vice President Al Gore’s calls for hand recounts in closely contested Florida counties.
Unofficial Associated Press totals last weekend estimated that Bush held a 930 vote lead over Al Gore after officials finished counting overseas absentee ballots. Florida’s Palm Beach and Broward counties continue to recount votes by hand and Miami-Dade County will start its hand recount Monday.
The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments from both sides about the validity of the hand recounts Monday morning.
Democrats held up signs that read Justice for Palm Beach, No need to concede, and Future home of the Liebermens, and chanted slogans such as Every vote counts and This is what democracy looks like, that is what hypocrisy looks like.
I feel that Gore won Florida once you actually count all the votes, said Jessee Demastrie, CD voter outreach director. And this rally is great in that it shows democracy in action and that students want their votes to count for something.
Across the street, Republicans held Bush-Cheney signs and others that read No more re re re-counts and Justice delayed is justice denied. They countered Democrats with charged cheers of Too many recounts, and W is for winner.
I don’t think this a country that allows candidates to recount votes if they don’t like the results, CR member Bryan O’Keefe said. We are here to let Vice President Gore know that we don’t approve of his manipulation of democracy.
Receiving word of the event earlier in the week, a number of media outlets covered the yelling match, including the Boston Globe, NBC, MSNBC, ABC and foreign agencies from Japan, Germany and France.
Leaders from the CDs and CRs said the event highlighted the force of youth activism.
We are here to get our message out and this rally is a lot better than expected, CD President Anjan Choudhury said. It’s loud and exciting and we have kids from all over believing that their vote makes a difference and seeking to make their voices heard.
No matter what side you are on, this is a great showcase for democracy and it shows that GW students are really politically active and care about their nation, CR Chairman Bill Eldridge said.
Georgetown and Catholic students expressed their political opinions.
I want to see my man win and that guy is Al Gore, Georgetown freshman Noah Riseman said.
D.C. Metropolitan Police monitored the event to ensure the protest did not get out of control and it did not disrupt traffic.
Students on both sides said they agreed that the protest made them feel like they were actively participating in democracy.
There aren’t that many of us here, but among those who are, we are all fired up for a good cause and here to see that all the votes will be counted, CD Jessica Duffy said.