Keillor, Heinz rally for Dems at the U

Hayley Odom

During a week embedded with political visits, Garrison Keillor and Andre Heinz campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry on Monday at the University.

The University DFL student group sponsored both speakers to rally support for Kerry. It also encouraged attendance at today’s rally with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards and aimed to increase Democrats’ efforts to get people to the polls on Election Day.

Sporting red tennis shoes, a pink shirt and a sports coat, Keillor, a University alumnus and radio host, spoke to approximately 100 people in Coffman Union about the war in Iraq, the economy and the election.

“The country needs a change ,and it needs a change in Washington,” he said. “This administration has no good news.”

He said the Vietnam War was happening again with the situation in Iraq. The aggressive foreign policy the Bush administration embraced brought the country to a very dangerous point, he said.

He also said the concentration of wealth in the country is causing economic strife.

“(In the early 1980s), CEOs made 87 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker,” he said. “Now, CEOs make 427 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker.”

Keillor said the economy is forcing former professionals to work in places like McDonald’s and parking booths.

“We’re experiencing odd, odd economic contractions in this country which are scary,” he said.

But Keillor said he believes Kerry will carry the election.

“The headline of the paper on Nov. 3 will make you happy,” Keillor said. “Save a copy.”

At the end of his speech, Keillor offered to buy his book, “Homegrown Democrat,” for audience members who did not already have one. A swell of audience members followed him to the University’s Coffman Union bookstore.

U-DFL President Austin Miller said Keillor came to the University to help out its voting district, support the U-DFL and reward volunteers who have been working on the Kerry campaign at the University.

“He can ad-lib better than anyone in the country,” Miller said.

First-year student Rhea Grundl said she wanted to hear Keillor speak because she listens to his radio show and wanted to hear what he had to say about the election. She said she thought his speech was inspiring.

“I’m excited to vote,” she said.

Graduate student Deb Winters said she went to the event because she thinks Keillor is a good speaker and she supports Democrats.

Shortly after Keillor’s speech, Kerry’s stepson, Andre Heinz, tried to gain support for his stepfather at Northrop Mall.

Speaking to a group of U-DFL members holding Kerry-Edwards signs, Heinz said he has been traveling around college campuses for the last two months. He said college students care about their futures, the country and people in general.

“The Kerry-Edwards ticket aligns with your values,” he said.

Although there is only a week left before the presidential election, Heinz said, there is enough time to make a difference.

He said that in September, the Kerry campaign sent 23,000 e-mails to college students asking them to register themselves and their friends to vote. Within seven days, 69,000 people were registered, he said.

“The student vote will swing the election,” he said.