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Edwards vies for UA votes

David Harden/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Vice presidential hopeful John Edwards, made a stop at the UofA Bookstore yesterday to meet students who were buying books. The Kerry/Edwards campaign has recognized Arizona as an important state in the outcome of the November elections, and is working hard to win votes in the state.
By Mitra Taj
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, August 23, 2004
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Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of vice presidential candidate John Edwards, swept through the U of A Bookstore yesterday, shaking hands with students and pledging the Democratic presidential ticket will bring a brighter future to young people concerned about the rising cost of education and the lack of secure jobs.

As Edwards made her way through the crowd of students in the bookstore at about noon yesterday, she was welcomed with a shout of, "We love you Elizabeth" and loud applause.

Though Edwards didn't give a speech on campus, she stopped briefly to answer questions from the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She said young people should vote Kerry/Edwards to ensure a better future for themselves.

"Kerry will give young people a more positive future. Many are graduating with a lot of debt and few jobs to secure their future," Edwards said.

Elizabeth said in Arizona this year, approximately 2,500 prospective students decided not to attend college because they believed they couldn't afford it.

In the past two years, tuition at the UA has nearly doubled.

Edwards said, if elected, Kerry and her husband would change that.

"This should be the country that opens doors for people, not closes them," she said.

Kerry is promising to refund students and their families up to $4,000 of tuition every year with the College Opportunity Tax Credit. The presidential candidate also said he will give aid to states that keep college tuition down.

The democratic presidential ticket will also improve the environment students will step into when they graduate, Edwards said.

"Kerry is dedicated to raising the number of people who are insured," Edwards said. "So that when you're out of college you don't have to worry about that next step,"

Alicia Cybulski, political science senior and president of the Young Democrats, said the potential second lady hit the nail on the head when she addressed the increasing financial burden on students.

"There are so many students that are paying high tuition and come out of school with a lot of debt and then aren't able to do anything with their degree because there are no jobs," Cybulski said.

Danielle Roberts, political science junior and president of the College Republicans, said that though she disagrees with Edwards' political philosophy, she said she thinks it's "exciting that she came here."

"It's becoming increasingly obvious how important the youth vote is in this election," she said.

Roberts said the College Republicans will bring Republican delegates to campus to rally the Republican youth vote.

Edwards said young women in particular should vote for Kerry because of his support for women's health services and because she said the Bush administration has been "hostile" to Title IX funding, which supports gender equality in high school and collegiate athletics.

Edwards said without Title IX funding, some of the young female Olympic athletes wouldn't be where they are now.

Edwards also said she thinks young people should vote for Kerry because she thinks the Bush administration hasn't done enough to address environmental problems.

"It's clear this administration is on the side of big business when it comes to environmental protection," Edwards said. She called the landscape in Arizona "splendid" and said she is concerned with conserving it for the future.

Erin Burger-Gohl, a political science freshman who was among the estimated 150 people in the bookstore hoping to shake hands with the potential second lady, said although she didn't get to meet her, she was excited Edwards showed up.

"It's great that she came: this is going to be a very important election," Burger-Gohl said. "Especially here in Arizona because it's so tight."

Burger-Gohl, a native of Washington D.C., said she chose to come to the UA in part because it's a swing state where her vote will matter more than in other states where she considered going to school. She said the university was an ideal place for Edwards to campaign because of the 30,000-plus students of voting age.

"Hopefully it will inspire people to go out and vote," she said.

Alistair Chapman, president of ASUA, said Edwards' comments and her appearance on campus show that the ticket "values young people and investing in higher education."

Chapman said after speaking briefly with Edwards that she was very "personable and excited to meet young people."

"A person like that really motivates young people to vote," Chapman said.

Juliana Zuccaro, a women studies, political science and creative writing senior, and vice president of the UA Network of Feminist Student Activists, said Edwards' visit was important for female students.

"It's a big deal for us to have a female representative of the candidates to come out to Arizona and to campus," she said.

Zuccaro said 18- to 24-year-old women make up one of the groups with the worst records for voter turnout.

"And it's important to get young women out to vote because when women vote, Democrats win," she said.

Edwards' stop at the university is her third in Arizona so far, said Janet Meza, Kerry campaign press secretary for southern Arizona. She met with a women's group in Phoenix on Saturday and with another women's group in Tucson at the Manning house yesterday morning.

Meza said the stop is part of the campaign's effort to "engage youth and get them out, not just to vote, but to volunteer for the campaign."

Meza said she doesn't know who decided Edwards would visit the UA. "But it boiled down to, 'Who do we want to tap into?' and we think young people are really important this election and the biggest way to tap into young people is to come here," she said.

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