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Wednesday October 18, 2000

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Latino UA students gather for presidential debate

Headline Photo

By Maya Schechter

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Estudiantes Con Gore pleased with vice president's

At the third and final presidential debate last night, the two candidates addressed healthcare and affirmative action - two topics important to members of the UA Latino community.

A group of 25 University of Arizona students - comprised mostly of Latino students but also three Young Democrats club members - gathered in the Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs center in the Economics building to watch the debate.

About 20 UA students are involved with Estudiantes Con Gore, a national organization under the Al Gore campaign, which encourages Latino college students to learn about the campaign process.

Christina Vejar, a political science and Mexican-American studies senior, said she contacted the Latino outreach director at the Gore headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. to find out how to get UA Latino students active.

"Our first goal is to get Latinos involved with elections," Vejar said.

Vejar said that although she encourages Latinos to vote for Gore, she said she hopes that those who do not will at least learn about the election.

Gore appeals to the Latino population, Vejar said, because he has always supported bilingual education, affirmative action, and immigration rights.

"The Democrats have always opened their arms to minorities, while Republicans never showed that they care to fix discrimination problems," Vejar said.

Pedro Marquez, a Latin American studies junior, said he is planning on voting for Gore because it seems like he cares about the Latino community.

"We can benefit from his decisions about poverty and education," Marquez said. "He seems honest and hopefully will continue to keep the economy going like Clinton did."

Vejar said she was impressed with the way Gore was able to retaliate so quickly to Texas Gov. George Bush's comments last night - something he has not done in past debates.

"He was really able to highlight Bush's misrepresentations of his (Gore's) ideas," Vejar said.

Liberal arts sophomore Michelle Figueroa, who donned a shirt decorated with Gore/Lieberman stickers, said that she is going to vote for Gore because he deals with middle-class issues which affect her personally.

"I like how well-prepared he was during the debate, it showed how competent he is," she said.

Vejar said she hopes Estudiantes Con Gore will continue to work with the campaign until the day of elections.

She added that they will cater to any of the students' needs, whether it is standing in the middle of the road with Gore signs or providing transportation to the voting polls.

The UA Young Republicans were invited to attend the debate watch, but Vejar said she let them know about the event last minute, so she understands why none of them came.

Campaign literature was provided about both candidates at a table in the back of the room, including stickers, posters and pictures.