Local democrats meet with presidential campaign officials

Tony Parra

The Iowa Caucus has kicked off the 2004 election year and the Roosevelt County Democrats are all in agreement of one thing: No more George W. Bush.
About 50 democrats met to hear officials representing the campaigns of Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry at the Memorial Building on Monday.
“I’ve thought a lot about our democratic representatives running for election,” Arn Andrews, the representative for the Howard Dean campaign, said. “I care about one thing. I don’t want George Bush to receive another four years in office.”
The Roosevelt County Democratic Women hosted the luncheon.
Among the group, a few asked the representatives about their candidate’s thoughts on helping Hispanics and Native Americans prosper in New Mexico, a state with a high population of both minority groups.
The representatives said many Hispanics and Native Americans support both democrats, but didn’t go into detail on local issues regarding Hispanics or Native Americans.
Frank Murray, a University of New Mexico student, was representing the Kerry campaign.
“I met John Kerry while I was working as an intern for Sen. Jeff Bingaman,” Murray said. “I was overwhelmed by him. He was compassionate and sincere. He has a great sense of patriotism and he volunteered for service during the Vietnam War.”
Kerry won the Silver Star and Bronze Star for bravery in battle, and returned home to become a national spokesperson for Vietnam.
“He spoke out against the war (with Iraq),” Murray said. “He would not be disgraced by sending so many young men to die. The soldiers believed in him (when he was in the Vietnam War). He was a leader in a time of need.”
There was no bad blood between the representatives and the people in the audience were decorated with blue Dean and Kerry stickers.
“I’m not here to bad mouth our opponent John Kerry,” Andrews said. “If you came to watch me bad mouth our opponent, you are going to be disappointed. Dean cut taxes in Vermont and raised the minimum wage twice. He’s expanded the programs to help seniors afford prescription drugs.”
Andrews related his 10-speech to the farmers of Roosevelt County, by talking about what Dean has done for Vermont farmers.
“Dean developed a program to help farmers in Vermont,” Andrews said. “The program added $60 million to aid Vermont farmers and about $180 million to aid Vermont agriculture economy.”
Both presentations talked about helping the economy and affordable health care. Murray’s speech touched on improving energy independence and improving education.
“Kerry is the real deal,” Murray said. “He wants to do away with the peddling and secret-dealing going on in Washington D.C. He wants to do away with John Ashcroft and select a new attorney general. He (Ashcroft) infringes on individuals’ rights. He is a supporter of energy independence so we can rely more on wind energy and other sources.”
Whoever the democrats elect to have as their presidential candidate will have to go against a 59 percent approval rating for Bush if he wins the republican nomination, according to a USA Today poll.
A USA Today poll on Monday also found that 21 percent of Americans cited terrorism as their top concern. The issue was not addressed during the luncheon.