Posted 8:36p.m. September 12
by Marcus Mrowka
U-WIRE Washington Bureau Chief
During a conference call with college newspapers around the country, College Democrats of America President, Ashley Bell, announced his endorsement of Senator John Edwards, North Carolina, for president as Edwards laid out his programs concerning young voters.
“Young people are aching for real leadership on the issues that matter to our lives,” Bell said during the conference. “[Senator Edwards] is our best hope of winning back the White House.”
Bell, President of College Democrats of America since 2002, attends Louisiana State University Law School. He is originally from Gainesville, Georgia, where he was instrumental in founding the College Democrats of Georgia which grew to 17 chapters under his watch. Bell was also the first African-American delegate at a Democratic National Convention in 2000.
Bell explained the basis of his endorsement, saying that he and Edwards were both from small towns where “every job counts” and that Edwards understands what it means to put workers first.
“I’m proud to have the support of Ashley and thousands of students like him,” Edwards said in response to the endorsement. “He and the College Democrats aren’t just the next generation of Democrats, their work is relevant now.”
Edwards outlined his “College For Everyone” plan, which he said would allow students to attend state universities or community colleges for free if they commit to working 10 hours a week for their freshman year. Edwards said he wanted to simplify the process students go through in funding their education.
Asked how the plan would be funded, an Edwards’ staff member told U-WIRE, “Each year, the federal government spends billions providing subsidies to banks for their student lending. Edwards supports cutting out banks as middlemen and making loans directly to students. This would save billions of dollars each year.”
In defending himself against Gov. Howard Dean’s ability to attract widespread grassroots support across the nation as well as his ability to harness the internet to capture the interests of young people, Edwards told reporters that he too is committed to using the internet to attract young voters and will be visiting college campuses across the country.
Earlier this week, Edwards announced that he would not seek reelection for his North Carolina Senate seat next year.
In a letter to North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Barbara K. Allen, Edwards said he wanted to focus his time on his bid for the presidency.
“The problems that drove me to explore a possible campaign are even more pressing today than they were in January,” he said in his letter.
Edwards is not yet considered in the top tier of the nine Democrats seeking the party’s nomination next fall. According to a recent Fox News Poll, only 3 percent of registered Democrats would vote for Edwards in the primary. The only state where he polls higher than his rivals is South Carolina.
This article appeared in the September 11, 2003 issue of the Hatchet.