SL supporters speak out after rally
Amidst a crowd of 3,000 supporters, a couple of specially invited Storm Lakers joined Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for a northwest Iowa visit Saturday as a prelude to the Democratic National Convention.
The rally was held at the Anderson Dance Pavilion in Sioux City, and was attended by several key Democratic politicians, including Iowa governor Tom Vilsack. Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and three of the Kerry children, Vanessa, Alexandra, and Andre, were also in attendance. Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, was not able to attend.
Kerry, who was traveling the Midwest as he made his way to Boston to accept his party's presidential nomination, spoke to the crowd about how he and Edwards would make a difference in employment, education, U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and family health care. He pledged to provide tax cuts to the middle class, end subsidies to companies that take jobs overseas, and give all students quality education, in part by dismantling the No Child Left Behind program.
"We value what Americans value, and we know that values aren't just words," said Kerry, criticizing the Bush administration's actions. Kerry has recently been accused of negatively attacking President Bush's record.
Kerry remained mostly positive and spoke to the crowd about the importance of voting.
Kerry explained his choice for a running mate. Iowans were disheartened after Kerry chose North Carolina senator John Edwards as his vice presidential candidate, rather than Governor Vilsack.
He also made a point to explain how special Iowa is to him and to Edwards. Kerry and Edwards came in first and second, respectively, in the Iowa caucuses.
"There were people who thought they knew everything, and thought that a John Kerry would never be on the presidential ballot," said Kerry. "But Iowa knew better."
Kerry also told the crowd a story of how, four days before the Iowa caucuses, an Iowa woman gave him a four leaf clover, telling him it would bring him good luck. Kerry presented the same four leaf clover to the crowd, saying that "it has traveled with me every single day of the campaign... and it is going with us to the White House on November 2."
Teresa Heinz Kerry also praised Iowa. "The caliber of the people in this state is special for me to see," she said in a speech supporting her husband and his bid for the presidency.
Vilsack also spoke, supporting Kerry and convincing voters to make the most of the election. "You can decide the future of our country," he said. "It may be Kerry's and Edwards' names on the ballot, but it is your future."
Storm Lake natives had the chance to show their support personally for Kerry on Saturday, as they were asked to join him on stage during his speech. Cindy Fort and Jim Schall were both personally invited to the rally.
Being a teacher and having a son in the army, Fort "entirely agrees" with Kerry's plans for education and his outlook on the war with Iraq. "We need to choose responsibly with whom and when we go to war," she said. Fort also got the opportunity to visit briefly with Teresa Heinz Kerry. "I admire her, I like her style," she said. "I am thrilled to think that they may be - no, they will be - in the White House in November."
Jim Schall, a Storm Lake attorney, agrees with Fort's comments about Teresa and the entire Kerry family. He got the chance to talk with Teresa and Kerry's oldest daughter Vanessa. "Iowa is obviously the state that put (Kerry) on the map, and he hasn't forgotten that," said Schall.
Schall also mentioned that he likes the fact that Kerry has specific proposals for what he is arguing for. He's not just saying something."
Supporters of Bush were also in Sioux City at the Tyson Event Center, across the street from the Democratic rally. Holding signs declaring "Good hair won't win a war on terror," and "Waffle," the protesters criticized what they say is Kerry's tendency to flip-flop on Senate votes.
Western Iowa, which has traditionally supported conservative candidates, has been cited as one of the main battlegrounds in the November election. Recent polls have shown Kerry and Bush to be in a statistical tie, proving that the 2004 election may be as close as the 2000 election race between Bush and Gore.
According to an Iowa poll of 641 voters published in the Des Moines Register over the weekend, 46% support Bush, and 45% support Kerry, 2% support Nader and 7% are not sure. Kerry is expected to accept the Democratic party nomination for the presidency on Thursday in Boston at the Democratic National Convention.