U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic vice presidential nominee, might have been closer to the White House than he thought on Tuesday — across the street from the Diag, where students, faculty and staff gathered to hear Kaine talk about gender equality for female officials and the cost of tuition, a giant bounce-house version of the White House stood on North University Avenue for the day.
The inflatable was part of a station set up by the nonpartisan organization ONE to educate voters about extreme poverty across the country as part of its ONE Vote initiative.
Co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono, ONE “raise(s) public awareness and press(es) political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs,” according to their website.
The event featured a virtual reality simulator that allowed participants to watch and experience poverty in Africa through a short video as well as learn about what the organization is doing to help. Maggie Bridges, the ONE Vote campaign representative, said participants were then asked to sign a petition to both of the presidential nominees, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump, to encourage them to take measures toward ending extreme poverty in Africa upon entering the White House.
“We’re taking this all over the country; we launched it at the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention and will be taking it all across the country until the end of the election,” Bridges said. “The point of it is to ask the presidential candidates to have a plan to fight extreme poverty when they enter the White House.”
After signing the petition, participants were encouraged to enjoy a few minutes in the White House-themed bounce house, Bridges added.
“The point of a giant bounce house is to give people an opportunity to cast their ballot and say what is important to them before they ‘enter the White House,’ ” she said.
The caravan is slated to continue traveling around to different college campuses in America, including Hofstra University in New York for the first presidential debate on Sept. 26.
Bridges said it was coincidental that the ONE caravan came to the University of Michigan on the same day as Kaine's rally in the Diag, but it was a pleasant surprise.
“U of M was one of the spots we were working to come to for a while now and we found out yesterday or the day before that Tim Kaine was going to be here, so that was a pretty cool thing,” Bridges said. “We’d love for him to come by.”
Bridges said they had reached out to both campaigns asking for campaign representatives to stop by and meet with them.
Idealists for Hillary activist Jeffrey Stacey, an LSA class of 1991 alum, stopped by the ONE Vote event to make connections with the initiative. Stacey said he works closely with Clinton’s campaign and is currently working to educate young progressives who formerly supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–VT) or the Green Party about Clinton’s agenda.
Stacey is a Democrat, but says he admires the universal, nonpartisan goals that ONE strives for.
“You see it right there; fighting extreme poverty, that is something we are in lockstep with them on,” Stacey said. “They’re so committed to getting people to act on their political opinions that they’re nonpartisan — they’re a great organization.”