Kerry, Bon Jovi, Rendell and Harris pay Pitt a visit


John Kerry wants to stop the rise of tuition costs, reduce American dependence on Middle… John Kerry wants to stop the rise of tuition costs, reduce American dependence on Middle Eastern oil, provide health care for all Americans, and work more with other countries.

Kerry, front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, visited Pitt last Friday in an effort to draw young voters to the polls in November and to highlight issues in the campaign that are important to students.

Musicians Jon Bon Jovi and Tom DeLonge, former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Hoeffel also made appearances on behalf of Kerry.

Hoeffel gave the opening remarks for the event from a flag-draped stage on Bigelow Boulevard.

“I would like to talk to you about what we are all here for,” Hoeffel said, responding to cheers from those assembled.

“Yes, we are here for Jon Bon Jovi,” Hoeffel said. “But he is not available to run for president.”

After an introduction from Dan Onorato, Allegheny County’s Chief Executive, Bon Jovi performed acoustic versions of his songs including “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Steve Back and Anup Doshi, juniors at Carnegie Mellon University, were disappointed by Bon Jovi’s performance.

“We’re pretty pissed off,” Back said. “He needed to play electric guitar.”

“Yeah, that sucked,” Doshi said.

Harris, known for the “immaculate reception,” spoke to the crowd about how Kerry is the candidate to vote for in November.

“We have the right to change bad governments every four years,” Harris said. “We have to pick the right guy at the right time to put us in the right position.”

Rendell spoke about the need to increase international participation in America’s foreign policy, as well as repealing tax cuts to people who make a certain amount of money.

“Make noise if you make over $200,000 a year,” Rendell said. “Wait, where’s Mark Nordenberg?”

DeLonge, from the band Blink 182, made references to Kerry’s military experience.

“He’ll have actually left the country more than twice before he becomes president,” DeLonge said.

Kerry then spoke to the crowd, remarking on its size.

“I haven’t seen a crowd in Pittsburgh this big since Franco Harris caught that pass to defeat Oakland in 1972,” Kerry said.

Kerry also commented on his similarities to Bon Jovi.

“He plays guitar. I play guitar. He wears a leather jacket. I wear a leather jacket. He was one of the 50 most beautiful people in People magazine. I read People magazine,” Kerry said.

Kerry spoke about rising tuition costs, the availability of health care, and the unemployment rate.

“The largest deficit in the history of America is not measured in dollars,” Kerry said.

“We will make it clear that the one person in America who needs to be laid off is George W. Bush,” he continued.

Kerry targeted what he sees as the state of health care in the country, which he summed up for the audience.

“Health care is a right for all Americans,” Kerry said. “You know why senators and congressman have such great health care?”

“Because you pay for it,” he explained.

Kerry also focused on the situation in Iraq, attacking Bush for going to war too soon.

“We will never allow any young American in uniform to be held hostage by oil in the Middle East,” Kerry said. “We are not independent or free as long as we have to import 60 percent of our oil from overseas.”

“We shouldn’t go to war because we want to. We should go to war because we have to,” he added.

Kerry pledged to bring more international participation in Iraq and in other areas abroad.

“Working with other countries is a sign of strength, not of weakness,” Kerry said.

Kerry also unveiled to the audience his plans for a $4,000 tax credit to students attending college, and a plan similar to a domestic version of the Peace Corps. Students would be given the chance to work for a certain period of time to help with college costs.

“America will pay for your four years of in-state tuition,” Kerry said.

Kerry spoke about Bush’s record with issues such as national security and economic policy, calling them into question.

“He doesn’t have a record to run on, he has a record to run from,” Kerry said. “We deserve a president with an attorney general who is not John Ashcroft.”

John Martin, founder and former president of Panthers for American Values, responded to some of Kerry’s comments.

“I think if John Kerry was president in 2000, Saddam Hussein would still be in power,” said Martin, who feels that the assemblage of countries operating in Iraq shows Bush’s willingness to work with the international community.

“I think Bush has done a good job of forming a coalition of the willing,” Martin said.

Martin was also skeptical about Kerry’s promise to create 10 million new jobs, and he defended Bush’s handling of the economy.

“I am skeptical that [Kerry] can create that many jobs,” Martin said, citing the corporate scandals and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as reasons for the nation’s economic troubles.

“The economy really got rocked by a whole lot of things,” Martin said. “I think Kerry is throwing darts, trying to hit something.”

Martin said he feels that a response by Bush is needed, even though college students are one of the lowest voting demographics.

“I do not think it’s electorally sound to cede the collegiate vote,” Martin said. “I think there is a ready and willing audience for a visit by Bush.”

Martin also said he feels that the current generation of college students will be more important to the electoral process.

“I think we are seeing a change. Our generation is much more civic-oriented,” Martin said. “I think attempts to tap young voters who will be future leaders is a good move.”