Dean rallies University students

Charley Bruce

While Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean rallied campus Democrats Thursday, more than a dozen Dean imitators tried to mimic his style.

College Republicans held an “Outscream Dean” competition at Coffman Union, with people taking turns reenacting Dean’s infamous Iowa speech that ended in a loud yelp.

College Republicans State Chairman Tyler Sunderman said the group was having “a little fun at (Dean’s) expense.”

Inside Coffman, Democratic congressional candidate Keith Ellison, secretary of state candidate Mark Ritchie and Dean fired up the crowd of more than 400 people.

Dean warned he would only speak for a few minutes because he was expecting a lot of work from the crowd after.

He applauded Ellison for his stance against the war in Iraq, and called him the ideal candidate for the 5th Congressional District.

Dean bashed Republican officials for putting “the interests of their party ahead of the interests of America.”

Dean said he wanted students to go out and canvass for student issues because the increase in tuition and cuts to Pell Grants affect them specifically.

Dean talked about the declining number of people with health care in the United States.

He said there were three American wars right now: the war on terror, the war in Iraq and “the Republican war on American families.”

“We are in the middle of a middle-class crisis in America,” Dean said.

There are two million young people who have the intelligence to go to college, but cannot afford it, Dean said.

Ellison pumped his fist on stage, jumping all the way to the podium.

He asked how many days were left until Election Day.

“Eighteen days!” the crowd chanted.

Ellison implored students to inform voters about issues and DFL candidates.

After the rally, 40 volunteers went door-knocking in the Superblock and surrounding neighborhoods.

Alex Cutler said the event was organized by the UDFL and the organization he’s executive director of standupnow.mn, a youth voter mobilization campaign.

He said most voters are turned off by party rhetoric, so his campaigners talk issues and candidates go with them.

Standupnow.mn members have knocked on more than 5,000 doors and registered more than 1,000 voters this year, Cutler said.

The youth-run organization develops future campaigners by giving them the experience of running a campaign and higher responsibility positions, he said.

Cutler said Dean asked the group if he could speak at the event while he was in Minnesota.

The event, Cutler said, was about more than mobilizing voters for this year; it was about building future generations of voters.

Cutler said races can often change overnight, and holding events even while a candidate leads is important.

Cutler has been using a strategy many campaigns have utilized to reach what he calls the iPod generation: he uses Facebook and MySpace.

“Peer to peer communication is the most effective,” he said.

He said that social networking Web sites are becoming town halls for young people.

Mike Hatch, with his Facebook profile, can directly respond to young people, Cutler said.

“Facebook is a verb now,” said journalism sophomore Julia Krieger, a standupnow.mn campus organizer.

Political science sophomore Amber Holzmeister, also with standupnow.mn, said the organization is specifically targeting college students to increase the number of informed voters on Election Day.

The DFL-backed group registers anyone, regardless of political affiliation, she said.

State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, walked the halls of Centennial Hall to talk to residents. The legislator, up for re-election, said she’d rather see people vote against her than not at all.

With the state paying so much of the University’s budget, Kahn said students have no right to neglect their civil duties.

Besides, with a polling place across the street from the residence hall, Kahn said voting for students is easy.

“Just like rolling out of bed,” she said.