In his first public speech since dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) talked about his campaign and the divisiveness of partisan politics at GW Thursday.
Graham participated in a discussion that also featured Andrew Cuomo, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton.
Graham called his campaign a “six-month odyssey” that “reaffirmed both my high regard for the passion of the American people for this democracy in which we are so privileged to live, and for their patriotism to this country.”
After polling numbers showed that he was at the bottom of the heap in a field of 10 Democratic contenders, Graham said he decided to drop out of the race. He lamented the lack of civility between political parties.
“Our political system is at a crossroads and is all too often lacking the ability to deal with the major challenges we face because the system lacks basic civility,” he said.
“We need to develop ways in which younger Americans can have a positive experience with government, and will aspire to become involved and stay involved,” he added.
More than 100 people attended the event in the Marvin Center Ballroom, sponsored by the College Democrats and GW Bookstore.
After 10-minute speeches from Cuomo and Graham, the Florida senator departed for Capitol Hill as Cuomo began a discussion on his book, “Crossroads: The Future of American Politics,” with four of its contributors, including former Pennsylvania congressman Bob Walker. The book is a collection of essays about contemporary politics and features entries by Clinton and rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.
Cuomo said one of his major concerns is the lack of political enthusiasm among young people.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on college campuses trying to reach young people,” he said. “Intellectually, I’m very young, so I thought maybe I could make a connection, but the cynicism with young people was unbelievable.”
Cuomo, who ran for governor of New York in 2002, said he got the idea for the book after withdrawing from the New York race.
“One of the things I realized in that campaign was the disconnect between what the politicians were trying to do and what the people were feeling,” he said.
Senior Emily Horne, president of the CDs, said she was thrilled with the turnout.
“I was so impressed by the quality of the panel and by the unexpected but wonderful addition of Senator Graham,” she said. “We had such a great turnout (despite) the (baseball) game and the midterms and the fact that it’s a Thursday evening. This is a wonderful surprise for us.”
Horne also said the CDs are interested in bringing all the Democratic presidential candidates to campus, though nothing has been confirmed.
In a brief interview after the event, Cuomo said he was dedicated to public service but did not say whether he would run for office again.
“I’m happy doing what I’m doing now,” he told The Hatchet. “I want to keep all my options open. I’ve worked in public service on and off all my life; it is the best way to help the most people.”