With a hurricane in her wake, Cate Edwards, daughter of Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards, breezed into The University of North Carolina at Pembroke on September 28.
Edwards is on a national tour of colleges to energize the youth vote. A recent Princeton graduate, Edwards stopped Tuesday afternoon at Fayetteville State University, then moved on to stops in Michigan, New York, Ohio and Iowa.
“There are 40 million young voters, and we can decide who our next president will be,” she told a gathering at the James B. Chavis University Center. “I am here to give young voters a reason to vote, and if they are voting, who to vote for.”
More than 100 students attended the event, sponsored by the Young Democrats of UNCP. The audience dwindled after Edwards was delayed 90 minutes by bad weather caused by Hurricane Frances.
Dressed in flip-flops and cotton skirt and top, Edwards looked the part of a college student. She said media attention on the campaign trail did not concern her.
“It’s been awesome,” she said. “I don’t pay attention to the media. I’m not out here to look pretty.”
A question about the most frequent questions college students ask, brought one familiar answer and one not so familiar.
“The most questions I get are about paying for college and Iraq,” she said. “I also get questions about health care because college students are in tune with their vulnerability to losing coverage when they leave college.”
Edwards said “her dad” and John Kerry had a plan to make college education affordable for all Americans. Tax breaks and increased financial aid are needed to offset rising tuition, she said.
“This is something very personal to my dad because he is the first person in his family to go to college,” Edwards said.
Edwards touted the Democrats’ plans for jobs, education, the environment and Iraq.
“The Bush administration had no plan to win the peace in Iraq, and they have abandoned the war on terrorism,” Edwards said. “My dad and John Kerry have a plan to win the war.”
Edwards encouraged UNCP students to vote.
“2000 showed us that every vote counts, and every vote will be counted this time,” she said, referring to the voting controversy in Florida. “The 562-vote difference is about the size of the average dorm.”
Student reaction was positive.
“She was spectacular,” senior Brandon Knight told The Robesonian. “I am 22 and to see someone my age come here and express their opinion .. that was worthwhile. She is very knowledgeable about the issues and a good role model for students.”
Thomas Mann, president of the Young Democrats of UNCP, reminded students they had until October 8 to register to vote in the general election.
“The Young Democrats of UNCP is a new organization and, yes, we are partisan, but our main goal is to get people politically motivated,” Mann said. “Our voter registration drive is October 3.”