Presidential ads for Kerry target college students

FFive months before election time, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is heating up his presidential campaign with an advertisement focused on the college population.

Kerry’s election campaign recently placed ads in 20 college newspapers across the country. The full-page ad, which ran in The Minnesota Daily, read, “If you do nothing you have no right to complain.”

The ad solicits money from students and asks them to send the ad to their parents if they do not have money to give to Kerry’s election campaign.

Some University students said they are skeptical of the ad.

“I feel like they are just trying to get my money to support Kerry,” said biology major Beata Kowalkowski.

She said she is undecided about whom to vote for in November, but said Kerry’s campaign advertisement doesn’t make her support him.

“The advertisement should tell me more about his platform than simply asking me for money,” Kowalkowski said. “They are asking for money for his campaign and not his ideas.”

Bill Burton, Kerry’s press secretary, said the ad was not placed only to get students to vote for Kerry, but to get students active in the political process.

“Everyone, no matter what their status is, can get involved in politics, whether it is through volunteering, donating money or just showing up to vote,” Burton said.

Burton said students are paying attention to the ad and Kerry because he deals with issues that are relevant to them.

“It’s not just that tuition is going up, it’s that President Bush isn’t doing anything about it,” Burton said. “Kerry wants jobs for students and to make college affordable.”

Thousands of volunteers have signed up for the Kerry campaign since the ad first ran, Burton said.

“The ad has been very successful,” he said.

Frances Lee, a visiting political science professor at the University, said she is unconvinced the ad will make a big impact on students’ voting decisions.

“Even if Kerry is trying to pull in the college students, it isn’t going to benefit him that much,” Lee said. “That is an age group that doesn’t vote very often.”

Lee said the ad is very similar to something former Vermont governor Howard Dean would have done.

“He is trying to get the Dean supporters on his side,” she said.

Lee said many of Dean’s supporters were younger and attracted to his style.

“It takes a while to get into politics, and the average college student doesn’t have a strong sentiment toward one party over the other,” she said.

Kowalkowski said she doesn’t follow politics closely, but is planning on voting in November.

Lee said Kerry’s ad appeals to undecided voters like Kowalkowski.

“He makes a contrast between the two parties and tries to get the middle-of-the-road and undecided voters,” Lee said.

Kerry went on a college campaign in early April and plans on coming back to Minneapolis later in the campaign.

Representatives from President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign could not be reached for comment.