Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) assailed the Bush administration’s domestic policy and spoke about the plight of working-class Americans in a policy address at GW Wednesday.
More than 100 students attended the event, held in the Media and Public Affairs building’s Jack Morton Auditorium. Many seats were vacant because of a last-minute time change, and latecomers were able to find a seat during Edwards’ address.
In a southern drawl, Edwards accused the Bush administration of neglecting working-class families in favor of rich elites and big corporations.
“Thanks to this administration’s economic policies, Americans are working harder, making less and spending less time with their families,” Edwards said. “The president is out of touch with America’s families.”
Edwards said the administration’s domestic budget cuts have affected millions of families.
“If you’re a parent who is afraid you’ll never be able to afford college for your three children, the president says, ‘Get ready to take out big loans because my budget cuts college scholarships and freezes work-study (programs),'” Edwards said.
He also vowed to stop e-mail solicitations about sex and violence from reaching children.
“Everyday, children and parents are shocked by the e-mails they get, many of them pornographic and some of them violent,” Edwards said. “More and more children are first learning about sex not from a parent or even from a peer, but from some e-mail. That is totally inappropriate.”
After the speech, Edwards took questions and encouraged students to join his presidential campaign.
“I need you. I want you involved in any way you want to be involved,” said Edwards, responding to a question about student participation in elections. “I need to listen to what you have to say.”
“It’s enormously important to have young people involved in this campaign,” he added.
Several students did sign up to be part of Edwards’ campaign.
“He’s straightforward, unlike a lot of politicians,” said freshman Aaron Huertas, who signed up. “I have faith that he’d do a great job as president.”
“He’s charismatic, he’s good for the country and his policies are clear and appropriate,” said freshman Kris Reichardt, a republican who said he was swayed by Edwards’ speech. “If he gets the nomination, I’ll definitely vote for him.”
In a short press conference held after the event, Edwards said he is resolute that the United States should take military action to disarm Iraq and does not believe it will affect him in the Democratic presidential primary.
“I think any (presidential) candidate can be successful if he does what he thinks is right,” Edwards told The Hatchet. “I’ve had the same position all along. You can’t determine what your position is going to be by what people want to hear or by what you think people want to hear.”
Event organizers said they were disappointed by the low turnout, noting the event was postponed an hour because Edwards needed to vote in the Senate.
“Kids that signed up for the event thinking it was 12:30 couldn’t make it for 1:30, and kids that couldn’t make it for 12:30 but could make it for 1:30 didn’t know about the postponement,” said University Marshal Jill Kasle, noting that her office received more than 200 reservations for the event.
“(The postponement) really killed us … that was a shame,” she said.