Sestak pushes for student votes

By Mallory Grossman

Joe Sestak hosted a conference call Thursday with Penn State’s head football coach Joe… Joe Sestak hosted a conference call Thursday with Penn State’s head football coach Joe Paterno, the vice president of the College Democrats of America and student journalists to discuss what’s at stake for students in the upcoming election.

Sestak, the Democratic candidate for Senate, took the opportunity to stress the importance of students getting out to the polls — a common theme repeated by campaigns and candidates across the state during the run-up to Tuesday’s general election.

Paterno spoke first during the conference call, saying that he used to be private about his political beliefs until Barack Obama launched his bid for the presidency. That election inspired Paterno to “get off the sidelines,” he said.

“Penn State is a ‘we and us’ team as opposed to an ‘I and me’ team,” Paterno said. “Washington doesn’t play like this.”

During the call, Sestak maintained that he was not like the rest of the politicians in Washington.

“Your generation wants someone who is willing to lose their jobs over what they believe in,” Sestak said.

Sestak said his experiences serving in Vietnam inspired his love for public service. He added that his deep care for Pennsylvania and the government came after his military medical benefits helped save the life of his daughter, who suffered from brain cancer. She is now 9 years old.

Pat Toomey, Sestak’s Republican opponent in the Senate race, was not available for comment after the conference call. During the past months, Toomey has consistently criticized Sestak for his support of the stimulus package, health care reform and for holding extreme liberal views.

John Berris, the public relations chair of the Pitt College Republicans, said he supports Toomey over Sestak for many reasons, one of the main ones being jobs.

“Jobs are going to be a big issue in this election and Toomey has a background in business. He is aware of what it takes to create jobs,” Berris said.

Sestak stressed the importance of education in improving the U.S. economy. He spoke of legislation that would limit school loan payments to 10 percent of a graduate’s annual income.

“We need to invest in young people, because they will drive America forward,” Sestak said.

When asked about the negative turn the campaign has taken and the increased political polarization of this country, Sestak said that he realizes people are tired of negative ads.

He said that his televised ads have not accused Toomey of anything, but rather allowed him to speak for himself. He said that he uses clips of Toomey speaking to stress his points.

Recent Sestak ads have implied that Toomey would favor Wall Street and big business over the middle class — statements Toomey has consistently denied.

Sestak then claimed that recently his campaign has only showed positive ads that only show him speaking into a camera.

“I am frankly disappointed,” Sestak said, referring to the negative ads Toomey has put out that Sestak claims accused him of wanting to cut Medicare.

Berris begs to differ about Sestak’s claim of not running negative ads.

“Sestak has run negative ads. Among them is a very racist ad saying that Toomey would make a good senator in China,” Berris said. “The ad features many common Chinese stereotypes and is in very bad taste.”

Repeating a common quip in the race, Sestak said, “At the end of the day, common Pennsylvanians will prevail and will not accept a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

“My mother always used to say, ‘The world belongs to the young,’” Sestak said. “And we are handing the country over to you to take care of it.”