John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill gave students a behind-the-scenes look at campaigns Monday night.
The political strategist spoke in the Marvin Center to an audience of about 130 students. In her speech at the GW College Democrats-sponsored event, Cahill offered optimistic predictions for the Democrats in 2006.
“The (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) is doing some excellent work,” Cahill said. She predicted the Democrats will gain a majority in the House of Representatives in the November mid-term elections, but said she does not foresee Democrats winning a majority of seats in the U.S. Senate.
Even though the Republican National Committee has a leg up in fundraising, Cahill said she thinks voter turnout will increase in favor of the Democrats in 2006 and 2008.
“Do everything you can to elect more Democrats,” she said, noting that young volunteers were an important asset to the Kerry campaign. Cahill said that Senator Kerry (D-Mass.) won the 18 to 30-year-old age group by nine percentage points with 54 percent.
Cahill urged her student audience to be active in the upcoming elections and encourage young people to vote.
“The first two votes you cast has a lot to do with how you vote in your lifetime,” Cahill said, emphasizing the need to get young people involved in the voting process.
Cahill said she does not think the 18- to 30-year-old turnout in 2006 will be exceptionally high. She said she expects the excitement of a national election will increase 2008 youth turnout in favor of the Democrats.
She said she would not discuss the 2008 presidential race before the field is decided, but said it is the first election in a long time that the Republicans have not had a sitting candidate ready to accept the nomination.
Cahill also described a behind-the-scenes look at campaign organization. Referring to the 2004 presidential race, she said the importance of money and Internet organization in a national campaign is essential.
“It’s definitely great to hear from someone (who has) run campaigns and really has an inside view,” freshman Michael Wear said.
College Democrats Events Director Tanya Choudhury, a sophomore, said Cahill’s inside view is what made her such an appealing choice as a guest speaker.
“Everyone always requests to hear senators and other public officials. A lot of students at GW are into the behind-the-scenes look at politics,” she said. “Who better?”
Last week the CD’s hosted U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in the Marvin Center.