Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
John Kerry made a presidential campaign stop in Philadelphia yesterday, with former President Bill Clinton as guest speaker. Speaking to a crowd of thousands, including about one hundred Swatties, Clinton first discussed the concrete initiatives in health care and defense that Kerry has planned, and Kerry emphasized the failures of current President George Bush, citing the recent discovery that almost 380 tons of powerful explosives are missing from a former Iraqi military installation.
The rally began with long lines and lots of waiting. People with red or blue cards were allowed to stand closer to the stage but had to first pass through a security checkpoint for safety. At 10:30 a.m., the campaign warmed up the crowd with several dance music tunes, including Outkast’s “Hey Ya” and Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”. Thousands attended the event, with some people watching from the windows of their offices, some watching from roofs of buildings, and others watching from the balconies of their apartments.
During the invocation, the Reverend Louis Williams Bishop, also a Pennsylvania State Representative, rallied attendees with the failures of the current administration. Attendees booed the President as she cited the over 60,000 jobs lost in Pennsylvania during President Bush’s four years in office. Introductory speakers continued in the same vein, speaking of the hope of America and Senator Kerry’s dedication to a stronger and more competent defense agenda and to healthcare for every person in America. “Pennsylvania needs Kerry. The United States of America needs Kerry. The people are ready for a new President,” they said.
Due to heavy traffic, Senator Kerry and former President Bill Clinton were late arriving at the rally. The crowd kept its spirits up by chanting “Kerry” and “We want Bill”, while more dance music was blasted from the speakers.
Former President Clinton finally took the stage, amidst wild cheers from the crowd and lots of red, white, and blue confetti, at around 12:50 p.m. While former President Clinton is still recovering from his quadruple heart bypass surgery from seven weeks ago, he appeared strong, only slightly tired, and as charismatic as ever. He asserted that Kerry has concrete plans on issues such as healthcare and defense. Clinton warned that President Bush is “burdening our children” with his tax cuts. He powerfully stated the case for Kerry as such: “Let me tell you one of Clinton’s laws of politics. If one candidate is trying to scare you, and one is trying to get you to think; if one candidate plays on your fears and one on your hopes,” he said, “you better vote for the one who wants you to think and hope.”
Senator Kerry spent most of his speech contrasting himself to President Bush. In Iraq, Kerry claimed that President Bush’s policy was “wrong and reckless” and “the President failed to do the basics.” The Senator added that is was recently discovered that almost 380 tons of powerful explosives are missing from a former Iraqi military installation. Kerry further criticized the current President, stating that “George W. Bush has failed the test of commander-in-chief”, and Kerry expressed concern over President Bush’s attitude as he said, “If [the President] can’t recognize his mistakes, how’s he going to fix them?”
Kerry asserted he would do a better job on health care and give people a choice in their health care. As he claimed during the debates, Kerry again stated that “two million people have lost their healthcare” under the current administration. The Massachusetts Senator pointed out further failings of the administration in dropping the ball on labor standards and environmental standards. He quoted the President as saying during the debates that “being President is hard work.” Kerry responded to this quote, “I am impatient to relieve this President of that hard work.” The Senator continued by saying that there are important issues on this ballot and that “our character is also on this ballot.” Senator Kerry finished his speech at the rally on a strong note as he said, “Just as I fought for this nation as a young man, I will fight to defend it now.”