Approximately 400 people turned out to hear Army Gen. Wesley Clark campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry on Friday at the Law School.
Clark devoted most of his speech to national security issues and the war in Iraq. He said President George W. Bush was arrogant and negligent for failing to heed the available intelligence information about terrorism threats before Sept. 11, 2001. Bush initiated the war in Iraq to counteract that blunder, Clark said.
“(Bush) took us to a war we didn’t have to fight,” he said.
“He knew he screwed up and let 9-11 happen when it could’ve been prevented, and the only way he was going to recover politically was to do something big and powerful and dramatic.”
Clark urged the crowd members to find two undecided voters each before Tuesday’s election and convert them to the Democratic ticket.
“Go find them and talk to them,” he said. “Don’t talk about emotions. Don’t talk about how much Bush makes you sick. Talk about this country, because that’s what it’s about.”
Clark said many undecided voters lean toward Bush because they are afraid of changing the commander in chief in the middle of a war.
“I’d like to put that in Texas terms,” he said. “Never change a horse midstream, unless you’re about to drown.”
Mostly military veterans and students attended the event, filling every seat and spilling onto stairs in an adjacent overflow room.
Many wore Kerry buttons, stickers and T-shirts and waved Kerry posters, periodically bursting out in thunderous chants of “Four more days!”
Third-year law student Drew Smith attended the event.
“I’ve never seen Wesley Clark in person, so I thought I’d come and see what he had to say,” he said. “It was impressive.”
Second-year law student Amber Swanson said she liked Clark’s idea of converting undecided voters.
“It was a good call to action,” she said. “But he’s preaching to the choir. And I don’t know anyone who is not committed.”
Tony Richter, vice president of the University’s College Republicans, said he believes Democrats will have a hard time converting undecided voters.
“I don’t think the Democratic ticket offers anything new, anything promising,” he said. “They offer anti-Bush, and I don’t think that’s going to bring people to the polls.”
But Bush offers principled leadership in a time of great change in the world, Richter said.
“(Bush) is not going to make decisions based on the current New York Times opinion poll, but on what he believes is right in his heart,” he said. “That’s why I respect him so much.”
Friday’s event was hosted by the Law School Democrats and Veterans for Kerry. Andrew Borene, the national spokesman for Veterans for Kerry and a first-year law student, also addressed the crowd at the event.
Borene served as an intelligence officer for approximately 100 days during major combat operations in Iraq. He said he voted for Bush in 2000, but now supports Kerry because he believes Bush lied about the situation in Iraq.
“You’ve got a real choice on Tuesday,” he said. “You can choose between the truth or propaganda. You can choose between fact or fiction, hope or fear.
“I urge all of you students to cut class and vote on Tuesday.”