Edwards holds final Minnesota rally

by Than Tibbetts

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards rallied an estimated crowd of 2,500 Monday in Hamline University’s Hutton Arena in St. Paul.

Sticking to standard applause points and “get out the vote” messages, Edwards attacked the current administration’s labor, education, economic and foreign policies.

He also said President George W. Bush has continued to blur the line between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Edwards recalled a moment in the second presidential debate when Bush asked moderator Gwen Ifill, “My time up yet?”

“Tomorrow, America is going to answer his question:

‘Yes, George Bush, your time is up,’ ” Edwards said to laughter, applause and crowd chants of, “One more day.”

Edwards then vouched for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s character.

“There is nobody you would rather be in a foxhole with than John Kerry,” he said.

He acknowledged college students and young people in the crowd as he criticized increasing tuition costs across the country.

“If there’s long lines at the polls tomorrow and those lines are filled with young people,” he said, “John Kerry will be the next president of the United States.”

Edwards received support from several prominent Minnesotans, including Garrison Keillor, Josh Hartnett and former Vice President Walter Mondale, before giving his 20-minute speech.

Keillor, a University alumnus and Minnesota Public Radio host, acted as emcee for the event. He told the crowd that Monday morning was “the morning of the day before the beginning of the end of the Bush administration.”

Keillor, sporting red sneakers and a red tie, then recapped a short list of famous Minnesotans who support the Kerry-Edwards ticket, including former Govs. Elmer Andersen and Jesse Ventura.

Mondale said the next president must restore the United States’ prestige in the world, while Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said this election has an effect on every person one loves.

Hartnett, a film star and St. Paul native, also lent his star power to the Democratic presidential ticket.

“This is probably the most important election we’ll ever be involved in in our lives,” he said to the crowd.

Hartnett told the crowd it had the chance to “pull back on the reins before things get too bad.

“Since when did we become a swing state?” Hartnett said. “The pollsters have no idea what they’re talking about.”

Jan Kubesehek said he would support the Kerry-Edwards ticket if he could vote. Kubesehek is a foreign exchange student from Hanover, Germany, and a senior at Nacel Open Door High School on Hamline University’s campus. Even though he does not support every point in Kerry’s campaign, he said Germans were not in support of the war in Iraq.

Students and other Kerry supporters formed a block-long line well before the doors opened. There were no visible protestors or Bush supporters at the event.

Amy Lundstad-Vogt, a psychology senior at Hamline University, said she agrees with many of the positions of the Democratic candidates.

She said she thought having celebrities such as Hartnett and Keillor at campaign stops helps convince some people.

“It was neat to see them,” she said, adding that celebrities wouldn’t have an effect on her vote.

Jake Grassel, chairman of the College Republicans, said bringing in Hollywood celebrities – such as Ashton Kutcher – was a last-ditch effort by the Kerry campaign to slow Bush’s momentum on college campuses.

“We have the greatest spokesperson-celebrity we could ever have in George W. Bush,” he said.

Hartnett said, “It’s fun. It’s a nice break from talking about movies and actually talking about something with world importance.”

Hartnett, who spent time taking pictures with fans and signing autographs after the event, said he didn’t expect his opinion to change anyone else’s opinion.

“Just go vote,” he said, echoing the theme of the morning. “Just get out the vote.”