He spoke on why the Democrats have not been able to accomplish much, why more Democrats must be elected, and why he needs the youth to get out and support the Democratic Party. The speech was a lot of fun and Dean was very interesting.
I videotaped the entire speech, and much like my promise on the John Edwards speech, I promise to get that online -- as soon as I have time to get it on my computer. My videocamera tapes onto Hi-8, so it will take some time. Hopefully, I will get all this online over winter break. I also took some photos...
Of course, some of my fellow Peace Action WI members showed up, as did someone with an "Impeach Bush" sign. That, I think, is always a damper. Although I believe Bush should be impeached, it should not be a priority at this point. And when people bring such a sign, it gives the local media a chance to paint any mainstream Democratic or Left-leaning event as a extreme and irrational.
All in all, seeing a prominent political figure (who was my choice in the 2004 Presidential election) give a speech is a definitely something to remember, and I was quite happy to be there.
One more thing, although I did not get a picture with Mr. Dean, something surprising did happen. Before he came on stage, cards to write questions on were passed out. I wrote "What is your plan for victory in 2008?". I figured it would be a question he was likely to answer -- and I was right! He answered my question! When the question was read, I got to stand up and he looked me in the eye as he answered. For me, that's pretty cool. You can watch what happens on the video... as soon as I upload it.
Here's how the local media covered it...
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel...
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on Tuesday urged University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students to start knocking on doors in preparation for the 2008 election, while he also blasted Republicans on issues such as health care and the war.LINK: Dean blasts GOP: DNC chairman also urges students to get involved, vote
"Democracy, like every other invention of mankind, dies if you don't nurture it," Dean told an audience of about 250. "We need you in politics to win elections for your generation."
Dean zeroed in on Wisconsin's record of getting out the young vote. The state had the second highest turnout among young voters in 2004 and 2006, behind Minnesota. But voting alone is not enough; he wants young people to engage voters personally by knocking on 40 doors, four times, before the election.
"What happens in Wisconsin is going to make a big difference," he said.
The students asked questions, such as: How will Democrats make college more affordable?
Dean recommended a voluntary national service program in which students would serve two years and then reap cash for college.
Carthage College student Steve Horn asked for Dean's plan for getting out of Iraq.
Get the National Guard and reserves home now, Dean said. Divert some troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Keep Special Operations troops in the Middle East. Bring home up to 60,000 other troops within a year and a half.
"It wasn't the response I wanted to hear," said Horn, who wants the troops home sooner.
UWM student Nicole Morales, 20, said Dean's Iraq plan was the best part of his speech. "I thought it was really good," Morales said. "The only thing I have a problem with is beating up the Republicans so much."
Dean criticized what he described as an "obstructionist Republican minority" in the U.S. Senate that has prevented the country from getting out of Iraq. He disparaged President Bush's October veto of legislation that would have expanded the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP.
"We need to restore the moral leadership and moral authority in this country and the world," he said. "The Republicans have squandered our moral currency."
Republican National Committee spokesman Chris Taylor disputed Democrats' moral authority.
"This is the party that advocates cutting funding from our troops in harm's way. I wouldn't say that screams morality," he said.
Dean ended with a charge to students to get involved in a campaign. "There has been a tendency to be pessimistic about the future of America," he said. "I am not pessimistic about the future because of you."
The UWM Post...
LINK: Former Presidential candidate Howard Dean visits UWM: Calls Republicans ‘party of the past’
Former Vermont Governor and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean implored young voters to make an impact on the 2008 election races, while criticizing Republicans on several key campaign issues during a speech at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus Tuesday.
Dean, who unsuccessfully ran for President in 2004, called the Republicans “the party of the past” and identified Democrats as the only party that can unite the country.
He also spoke proudly of the diversity evident in the Democratic presidential primary race, noting that an African-American, female, and Hispanic candidate are among the party front-runners, adding that the candidate pool reflects the diversity of the country.
“You see your generation in our candidates when they get on the stage. The Republican Party is like the 1950s, where if you were of color, or a different religion, or gay, you were an invisible person,” said Dean. “We are not going back, we are moving forward.”
Dean’s criticism was met with staunch opposition from the Republican Party.
“Howard Dean's insinuation that the Republican Party lacks diversity is completely false. President Bush has surrounded himself with a very diverse group of people from Colin Powell, Elaine Chao, Alberto Gonzales, Condoleezza Rice and numerous others,” said Kirsten Kukowski, Communications Director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
In order to move forward as Dean hopes, he asked students to get involved in campaigns and contribute more than just their votes in the upcoming election year, introducing a Neighborhood Leadership Program as a way to build positive relationships with voters.
The program focuses on supporters pledging to knock on doors across the state and the country three to four times between now and November in an attempt to build a relationship that will result in party loyalty and votes.
“What happens in Wisconsin is going to make a big difference,” said Dean. “It is a big deal that you get out and vote and knocking on those doors is going to do the trick.”
Dean asked members of the crowd to “help all over the state” by electing three more Democratic state representatives in 2008, which would give the state senate, house and governorship to the democrats.
“That will put Wisconsin back on the path away from the financial problems that were left to us by Republicans, and away from the right-wing social agenda that has been foisted upon us,” said Dean.
Kukowski stated that, “Democrats have passed more bills naming post offices and highways than important legislation affecting the American people,” noting the 11% approval rating currently carried by the Democrat-led Congress.
Shifting focus toward the primary race thus far, Dean has been pleased with the decorum of the Democratic candidates heading into Iowa, feeling that much of the supposed conflict between the candidates has been overblown by the media.
“A lot of what you read about is really a hyped-up version of what people are saying. But remember, journalists fan the flames,” said Dean, who unsuccessfully ran for the nomination in 2004.
“The level of ugliness is really not what you think, and is nothing that alarms me,” he added.
Wisconsin primary elections are slated for Feb. 19. Chairman Dean’s appearance was sponsored by UWM’s College Democrats.
Here's some video via YouTube (you can see the whole speech there broken up into parts, but I will post the entire here thing soon!)...
LINK: Howard Dean Urges Student Involvement During UWM Visit
(Click the link to watch the video!)
LINK: Howard Dean Speaks to College Students
Also, that night I saw Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping perform, it was quite amazing!
Howard Dean, John Edwards, Michael J. Fox, and Dennis Kucinich (more to come on him), and this is only the beginning. I plan to attend many political events, given I am able to go. Thanks to Chris and Chad, the two who accompanied to both the Dean event, as well as the National Day to End the War, which I also reported on...