St. Louis (CNSNews.com) - Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe called Fox News anchors "wackos" in a candid speech Friday to a group of Washington University College Democrats.
Before launching into a defense of Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign, McAuliffe urged the students to be highly visible in the background of the live television broadcasts taking place on campus.
When McAuliffe listed the shows he would be on Friday, including Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes," the students booed.
McAuliffe responded, "I love going on Fox, those wackos."
The comment drew a round of laughter from the crowd of about 100 students. With only a small media presence in the room, including CNSNews.com, McAuliffe also issued a warning to the students that President Bush would reinstitute the military draft.
The underlying point of McAuliffe's talk was to energize the Washington University students who had spent the last several days preparing for Friday's debate.
"Driving over here, all you could see were Kerry-Edwards signs. This is important for me because in Miami, we won the visibility," McAuliffe said. "I was disappointed in Cleveland because on all the shows, it was Bush-Cheney [signs]. We had a great win in Miami, we lost in Cleveland, and we're going to win here in St. Louis."
The Washington University campus has an overwhelming population of liberal students, compared to their conservative counterparts. It showed Friday, when each group held rallies near the makeshift television stages for CNN and MSNBC.
"I don't care what you've got to do to get those Bush signs out of the way," McAuliffe told the College Democrats. "Do what you have to do."
Democrats carried giant Kerry-Edwards banners to each stage; Republican trotted out huge flip-flops to send a subtle message of their own.
"I don't think it's a matter of countering [Republicans]," said junior Nicole Soussan, president of the campus College Democrats. "I think it's a matter of the energy that we have and the lengths we're willing to go to stand out, come rain or shine."
The College Democrats have more than 1,300 members, compared to just 300 for the College Republicans. But supporters of President Bush weren't completely absent Friday. They were supporting Bush for his leadership in the war on terror.
"In the coming four years, what president do you want to deal with Iraq and North Korea? I think that's pretty obvious. Bush is definitely the man for that," said David Garvin, sophomore in economics. "He's not going to back down."
Junior Andrew Laskovy, a mechanical engineering major, said he was voting for Bush because the president has kept America safe.
"It's easy to sit back and be a Monday morning quarterback," Laskovy said. "At the time, when [Bush] had the facts in front of him and had to make a decision, I think he made the right decision."
Democrats who turned out for their own rally at the university's campus center also offered strong feelings about Iraq, only that Bush hadn't done a good job of handling the war. Concerns about the economy and Bush's conservatism were also on display.
"What scares me the most [about Bush] is what we haven't seen yet," said Aaron Keyak, a sophomore political science major. "When he has four more years when he doesn't have to worry about re-election, he can appoint Supreme Court judges and renew the PATRIOT Act."
Elizabeth Kramer, a freshman in mechanical engineering, said she wasn't a gung-ho Kerry supporter, but she still plans to vote for him because of concerns about the economy in particular.
"I don't necessarily think John Kerry is our best candidate for president, but I think he will keep our civil liberties safe," she said. "Hopefully, he'll make it so when I graduate from college in four years, I can get a job."
See Related Story:
McAuliffe to College Dems: Bush Will Reinstitute Draft (Oct. 8, 2004)
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