Ventura tackles students, ‘Hardball’ at Northrop

Libby George

He may be a lame duck governor, but Jesse Ventura has plenty to say on everything from a war on Iraq to higher education.

Appearing as the first guest on the college tour of MSNBC’s “Hardball”, Ventura answered a slew of questions from host Chris Matthews and students in the crowd at Northrop Auditorium on Wednesday night.

“That you kids want to be here tonight means that you care about politics and you care about what’s going on in your country,” Matthews said.

Once Ventura took the stage amid cheering and booing from the crowd, Matthews wasted no time getting to the issues, starting with the possible war with Iraq.

“I don’t think that because people don’t like the United States that it gives us an excuse to eliminate them,” Ventura said. “I believe that you really have to catch them red handed. They really have to do something.”

Ventura continued to say “chicken hawk” politicians and media figures push for war because they have never actually fought.

“It’s easy to fight a war if you’re not the one fighting,” he said. “There’s nothing glorious about it.”

Despite a crowd of college students, Ventura made it clear the rising cost of education does not concern him.

“Look at all the money you’re going to make after you graduate,” Ventura said during a commercial break.

He also used the opportunity to plug military service. “You can serve your country and then college is free. That’s how I went,” Ventura said.

Although many questions were tame, the governor did take heat from students with differing political views.

“I think your entire administration has been speaking from the right and ruling from the left,” said audience member Truman Horrner.

Despite Horrner’s attack and references to low approval ratings, Ventura stood behind his years in office.

“I’ve loved all four years of it and I don’t regret a thing,” Ventura said. “But I don’t believe in career politicians. Career politicians make decisions for themselves.”

As for the security of the nation, Ventura said he felt it was a different issue than an outright war.

“It’s different because we live in a free country and we don’t want to give up that freedom, because then they win,” he said.

He later oscillated on what freedoms citizens can maintain.

“Remember that it’s a war and you always loose your civil liberties in a war, and you just have to hope you’ll get them back,” he said.

Ventura, whose disdain for the media is no secret, also took time to comment on why he thinks the relationship is strained.

“They don’t like me,” Ventura said. “They were embarrassed that I won because they consider themselves experts, and there wasn’t a single media person who predicted I’d win.”

Although the show has appeared on college campuses before, this tour is different because the show will air live once per week from different college campuses, according to MSNBC spokeswoman Paulette Song.

The University was chosen because Ventura agreed to be the first guest. The tour will continue next week at George Mason University in Virginia with its guest retiring House Majority Leader Dick Armey.