Ventura draws big campus

Brian Close

Jesse Ventura, the Reform Party candidate for governor, spoke to and joked with more than 800 people Wednesday in front of Coffman Union.
Ventura appeared less than one week before the Nov. 3 elections, which will pit him against Republican candidate Norm Coleman and Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III.
The former professional wrestler and Brooklyn Park mayor said he differs from the other two candidates because he is not a “career politician,” and said he would serve no more than two terms if elected.
“Our country was founded on a premise that you go from the private sector, you serve, and then you go back to the private sector,” he said.
Ventura criticized the other candidates for campaigning while they are in office, and said he has only one year less experience as mayor than Norm Coleman, who is mayor of St. Paul.
“The difference between he and I is that I finish the job I start,” he said.
Ventura said he is fiscally conservative and wants less government in general.
Rather than state-funded child care, he said, he supports reducing the tax burden, which would free up money and time for parents so they could stay home with their children.
But Ventura said he is socially liberal and he supports decriminalizing certain offenses.
“I want to put violent criminals in prison. I don’t want to put stupid people in prison,” he said. “Too often government wants to legislate stupidity.”
On the education front, Ventura said he would not cut student financial aid if elected. But he added that students can find ways to pay for college, through loans, work or military service.
Many in the crowd praised Ventura for what they said was frank and honest testimony.
“My respect for him and his views has been raised,” said Katie Ballentine, a College of Liberal Arts senior. “He’s able to bridge the gap.”
College of Natural Resources senior Kevin Lindbergh said that even if he does not agree with everything Ventura said, he believes Ventura will stick to his word.
“I respect that a lot more than somebody who just tells you what you want to hear,” he said.
Ventura ended by reminding everybody of the importance of voting in the election, and said he expects turnout will be high, as it was when he ran for mayor in Brooklyn Park.
“If you don’t vote, you’re probably leaving important decisions to people who are dumber than you,” he said.
The speech featured its share of Ventura’s humor, which he said occasionally gets him in trouble with the media.
When asked what he would do to support the arts, Ventura smiled and thought for a moment before answering: “Start painting and sell some,” he said, to laughter and applause.
After the speech, many gathered around to ask questions and get autographs from Ventura.
“If we win, and I think we will win because of a large turnout, it will shock the world,” he said.