Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry will address the GW community for the second time in a week and officially receive the support of Howard Dean at a Kogan Plaza rally Thursday.
With Dean’s support, Kerry will seek to show that the Democrats are united in their effort to take back the White House in the November election.
“He believes we need a change from how George Bush does business,” said Kathy Roeder, a Kerry spokesperson
Kerry will also talk about his “vision” for the United States, and call for a more efficient energy policy and the creation of more jobs, she said.
More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the 10:30 a.m. rally, and tickets reserved for GW students and staff were all given out only two hours after they were made available Wednesday morning, said Matt Nehmer, assistant director of Media Relations.
Kerry picked GW to host the rally because it will give him the “unique chance” to address students and speak in the heart of D.C, Roeder said.
“GW is an inseparable part of the city and it’s a great opportunity to talk to students,” she said.
Laila Hasan, president of the College Democrats, said Kerry’s speech would be very important for the CDs and the University.
“Obviously this give us prestige across the country, and we’re honored to have him,” she said. “We’re excited and proud that he is coming to our campus.”
Nehmer said national and international media outlets have expressed “a lot” of interest in the event.
“This is going to be the premier speaking event, pretty much, in Washington tomorrow,” he said.
“It’s going to be a big show,” he added.
U.S. Secret Service and University officials plan to restrict pedestrian access to Kogan Plaza between 6:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Vehicular traffic on the 2100 block of H Street will not be allowed from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Gates will open at 9:30 a.m.
Last week, Kerry delivered a national security speech at GW’s Jack Morton Auditorium and was pleased that University officials could accommodate him on “short notice,” Nehmer said.
“They liked their experience here at GW, so they came back at their outdoor rally and we were thrilled to have them,” he said.
Some students waiting in line to get tickets to the rally Wednesday morning said they are excited to see Kerry and Dean.
“GW is a politically active campus,” sophomore Lauren Paley said. “Having them here is great for us.”
“If (Kerry’s) president, it should be good to see him before he’s elected,” freshman Brennan Berry said.
At Thursday’s rally, Dean will officially endorse Kerry in spite of the acrimonious battles the two had during the Democratic primary. Before the Iowa caucuses, which marked the start of primary season, Dean was widely expected to get the Democratic nomination, but failed to win any contests outside of his home state of Vermont.
“Governor Dean has decided that the top priority of this campaign is to get George Bush out of office,” said a Dean aide who requested anonymity. “And John Kerry is the best man for the job.”
“Howard Dean recognizes that George Bush is a danger to this country and there are a lot of things that Howard Dean and John Kerry agree on,” the aide added.
Since dropping out of the race last month, Dean has started Democracy for America, a group dedicated to promoting his campaign goals of securing healthcare and education for all Americans.
“The point of Democracy for America is to…mobilize the Democratic electorate in the country,” the aide said.
Dean’s endorsement of Kerry will present a united front to Republicans in the seven months before the November election, said Roeder of the Kerry camp, who noted that Thursday’s rally will be the two politician’s first campaign appearance together.
“The primary is over,” she said, “the Democrats have a nominee and Democrats are united and trying to move forward with their ideas.”
-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.