Plymouth, NH -
What happens when there is a political event on a college campus and no students attend? We found out tonight at Plymouth State University when Cate Edwards, daughter of John, joined up with Kate Michelman, former President of NARAL to talk about Senator Edwards at PSU’s Lamson Library.
Surprisingly, the answer to that question is not an empty room; and what the event lacked in students it made up for with a couple dozen older staunch Dems who were clamoring for some red meat.
In all honesty, there were a few students in attendance. One was a college Dem, one was a conservative Tancredo supporter looking for sound bytes to rail about on his weekly talk radio show, and the other seemed to be his lackey, whose job it was to take down the notes on his questions. But considering the location, and the guests - a 26 year old and an abortion rights champion, I was pretty surprised not to see at least a dozen students. But then again, to expect to see more than three Plymouth Staters anywhere other than a bar after 4PM on a Friday is a tall order.
The two C/Kates showed up a half hour late, claiming to have been lost on the New Hampshire mountain roads between Hanover and Plymouth, but the crowd was still happy to see them. Following a brief introduction, Cate Edwards spent a minute or two explaining why she is supporting her father, aside from the fact that he is, well, her father.
“So much has changed,” she said speaking of the last four years. “Things have gotten a lot worse.” John Edwards, she asserted, “has bold plans to change the way we think of the Presidency, and the way things happen in Washington.”
Just as important, she mentioned, he is both the most progressive candidate and the most electable, and “those two things almost never come together in the same person.”
With this, she turned it over to Kate Michelman. Earlier, the woman who introduced Michelman talked about the surprise with which she greeted the news that the former NARAL president was backing John Edwards over Hillary Clinton, the only female in the race.
This curiosity was addressed at the beginning of her remarks. “John Edwards is the most feminist feminist in the race” because of his outspokenness in tackling financial inequalities in America. Michelman called this “the next journey of the women’s movement.”
She went on to say that Edwards more than any other candidate recognizes that, while there has been a lot of progress in attitudes, law and policy toward women and minorities in the last forty years, “we have a ways to go yet.”
Michelman summed up her support by saying she was “very worried there wouldn’t be another candidate like John Edwards for a very long time if he’s not our candidate this time, who can represent us effectively and morally. If we don’t choose him we’ll send a message that we just don’t care.”
It was an appeal to help the plight of the poor and the disadvantaged everywhere in America, and Michelman followed it with her own personal story. It was a touching tale of a young woman abandoned by her husband with three young daughters, no job and no money. She faced hardship and discrimination when she was told by her local general store that she couldn’t receive a charge account because she was a single mother, and humiliated by onlookers as she sought to terminate a pregnancy spurred on by her own poverty and her husband’s vile actions. Through that experience she developed an appreciation for the leaders who spoke up for the disenfranchised.
To hear it that way helps one realize that there are gross inequalities in our country, even for groups as seemingly equal as women. But then again, given that a major draw for the Edwards campaign is providing a voice for the poor and the working class, and on top of that they tack on the gloomy subject of abortion, maybe it really is no major surprise that a Friday afternoon surrogate visit played second fiddle to power hour. Booze, after all, is often what gets us into the mess, and just as often is what gets us out of it.