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April 16, 2005

Liveblogging Kerry at UT

By Byron LaMasters

John Kerry is at UT today, and we have several thousand people packed into the Rec Sports center for his town hall meeting. I'm sitting next to Jim in the press section, and we'll be taking pictures and writing on the event. Sightings so far include U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), State Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) and the Margot Clarke campaign greeted everyone with Margot flyers. Just what I need...

10:17: God I feel like it's Fall of 2004 again. Bruce Springstein is on in the background. It's kind of sad, actually. Back in the days when I actually believed that John Kerry would be the next president of the United States.... *sigh*

Jim takes over the keyboard

10:36: Sightings of city council candidates Jennifer Kim, Lee Leffingwell, 2002 state rep. candidates Jim Sylvester and Lulu Flores, and Sheriff Greg Hamilton.

10:38: And Bruce Elfant.

10:38: Looks like it's game time...

10:42: Senator Kerry gets a wild reception. A salmon tie? With polka dots. Boldness.

10:45: Rep. Doggett gets a few words in about this democracy thing.

10:47: Doggett does introductions. Notices Reps. Naishtat and Dunnam (Byron: "I thought I saw Jim Dunnam"), constable Elfant, family, etc. etc.

10:48: Lloyd: "Austin to Boston connection". Introduces Kerry in full.

10:48: Kerry: "I kinda expected I'd be in Washington and Bush would be back here in Texas..."

10:52: A few well-phrased swipes on Tom DeLay and the theocons = crowd goes wild!

Byron takes back his laptop

11:02: Kerry took a brief shot at Tom DeLay, and there was more wild applause. Wow, we're all on message, we're running against the Tom DeLay congress in 2006.

Kerry noted that he won won almost half a million more votes in Texas than Al Gore? I didn’t know that. Let's do some research here:

2004:

George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney(I) - 4,526,917 - 61.08%
John F. Kerry/ John Edwards - 2,832,704 - 38.22%

2000:
George W. Bush /Dick Cheney - 3,799,639 - 59.29%
Al Gore /Joe Lieberman - 2,433,746 - 37.98%

Ok, more like 400,000 votes more than Gore (not mentioning that Bush increased his Texas vote by over 700,000).

Ok, moving on. Kerry notes the disgrace that 11 Million kids are without health insurance in this county (one of four children in America). He talks about values and that Republicans value millionaires more than they value children.

Back to Jim

11:15: Dr. Garcia from down the street is talking about the lack of access to medical care for children without health insurance. It's a familiar tale, but one which bears repetition.

11:16: Kerry: "You see how personal it gets..." And it's true!

11:17: Kerry is opening up the floor for questions...

11:18: "On my campaign we never required anyone to sign in." (apparently, a swipe at the heavily-scripted Repulican 2004 campaign).

11:19: Takes a question from an Iraqi immigrant and former Massachusettian about missing money from CPA Iraqi Reconstruction.

11:20: Kerry: Will try to get Armed Services committee to look into it. Says a few words about Iraq. Says goal is to get American troops home.

11:22: Takes a question about Wal-Mart not providing health care to its employees. Incidentally, you can tell the Senator is from Massachusetts when he says "Wal-Maaaht." Talks about small businesses.

11:24: Takes a question from a woman who doesn't think she has health care insurance. Asks what can be done for middle class people. Kerry: "Great question!" Mentions guest who, ironically, could not be here because her child was sick. "The middle class in America is constantly under siege."

11:27: Kerry makes mention about Pell grants going down. Actually, I have a few thoughts about that. Will post later.

11:27: "Things didn't stop on November 2nd!"

11:29: Kerry talks about tax fairness, minimum wage, job creation. Hmm...

11:31: Fields a question about childhood obesity. Kerry: "soda pop machines in schools are crazy." And back to child immunizations.

Trying hard to keep the focus on health care.

11:32: Kerry says he's writing a book, "wants to change the language on the environment." Starts going off on a Lakoffian rant about framing of air quality issues, etc.

(HAHAHAHA, I'm sure Greg'll just love that!)

11:34: Kerry says parents can't take kids fishing in 28 states (or parts of 28 states?) because of poor water quality?!?! America is doomed.

11:35: Kerry talks about deductibles and co-payments, mechanics of the Kids First bill. Minus 20 points for excessive wonkery in a public forum (wink).

Byron Again

11:42: Kerry, “if it weren’t for the unconstitutional redistricting in Texas, we would have won” seats in Congress in 2004. Although he stretched things a bit by blaming retirements for the Senate losses, and noting gains in Colorado, New Hampshire and Montana as reason for hope. Ok, I guess it got someone energized, though. My friend in the row behind me started stomping his feet rather loudly in the bleachers as Kerry got another standing ovation.

11:43: Gosh, I never saw this one coming... questioner, "how can we help"? Kerry, "visit JohnKerry.com". Well, Kerry at least learned on thing from the campaign. Direct people to your website, and do it right. As long as no politician ever sends people to the wrong fact check website again...

11:48: Kerry calls on the guy in the Boston Red Sox cap. Someone came prepared.

Jim takes the keys

11:50: Questions about mental health parity, and the bankruptcy bill.

11:53 Byron, "There's Katy Hubener", HD 106 Democratic nominee in 2004.

11:56 Back to Congressman Doggett... Thanks Kerry for "inspiring thoughtful leadership."

11:57 Kerry takes his last question about health care for illegal immigrants. This is not sitting well with a lot of people. Managing to keep the hall togeher, Kerry says immigration system is "broken" and it needs to be compassionate. "We're a country of laws." Says we need "comprehensive reform" and "earned legalization." Diplomatic response with a dash of artful dodging maintains peace between pro- and anti- immigration attendees. Feel the love, America.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at April 16, 2005 09:59 AM | TrackBack

Comments

We love the liveblog!

Posted by: The Web-Savvy Staff of Friends of John Kerry at April 16, 2005 04:43 PM

Yes, that's just what Kerry needs ... advice from George Lakoff. Had he only "re-framed" the issue of global warming, I'm sure he'd be President today.
</snark>

In all seriousness, though ... I'm glad to see that Kerry takes his post-2004 career seriously enough to hit Austin and other locations. Obviously, he's trying to keep his name out there for 2008, but I think the era of Democrats cannabilising their losing Presidential candidates has come to an end for the most part (seems that only KOS is wanting to do this ... ironic as it may be). Faults and all, the guy did about as well as anyone else who put their hat in the ring could have done.

I'm sure I'll pick up the book when it comes out ... unless I get wind that Lakoff himself is ghostwriting the thing. Of course, I reserve the right to slam it shut at the first sign of Lakoff's vacuous ideology of spin, also.

Posted by: Greg Wythe at April 16, 2005 05:19 PM

Live blogging - *Nice* - if only I'd had a student ID to go wireless.

Posted by: Pink Lady at April 16, 2005 07:21 PM

There is a guest login option on UT's wireless access gateway...

Posted by: chrisken at April 16, 2005 08:39 PM

Did anybody ask him when he would sign Form 180?

Yeah, didn't think so.

And the 'goal' of Iraq is not to bring our troops home. Once our real goals are realized, our troops coming home will be an ancillary benefit.

Posted by: Robbie at April 17, 2005 09:03 PM

In regards to the salmon tie. He stood right infront of me a few times and I was able to take a look at that famous tie. The pattern is actually made by light blue hot air balloons. Yes thats what makes the pattern. Just a little FYI

Posted by: Grube at April 18, 2005 08:30 AM

Extended Entry, extended entry!!

Posted by: Karl-T at April 18, 2005 09:46 AM

The Statesman's coverage was awful and woefully underestimated the crowd size.
http://www.statesman.com/search/content/auto/epaper/editions/sunday/metro_state_2426a0c0e3f062fc00d5.html

Send them a note to see if the actually attended and let em' know that the lead sentence was crude and un-called for.

scoppola@statesman.com- reporter
roppel@statesman.com- editor

Posted by: Count Blah at April 18, 2005 10:08 AM
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