With three days to go before the Iowa caucuses, University
students are rallying their voter bases to support their favorite
Democratic presidential candidate.

Janna Hutz
Students for Gephardt chair Ilya Rusinov and Ramya Rhagavan with Students for Dean get ready for a tough fight with the competitive Iowa caucus Monday. (TONY DING/Daily)

Students have formed groups to support all eight remaining
Democrats with the exception of the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Beginning as early as March of last year, the groups have been
hard at work handing out flyers and stickers, and working tables in
the Michigan Union and residence halls to encourage students to
support their candidates. Some groups visited Iowa to campaign
during the fall and winter breaks.

In addition to campaigning on campus, Students for (Howard) Dean
and Students for (Dick) Gephardt will be in Iowa this weekend to
get out the vote. Members of the latter group plan to have a
send-off rally today at the cube near the Union.

Both groups plan to go door-to-door and run phone banks to
encourage Iowans to go to the polls to vote.

Student supporters of Dean, a former Vermont governor, will also
be on hand to set up the hall for his speech in Marshalltown, Iowa
today.

The voting in Iowa initiates the first of the Democratic
presidential caucuses, and will be followed by primaries in New
Hampshire, Michigan, and many other states throughout the
winter.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut
decided not to campaign in the Iowa caucuses. Instead, they have
chosen to focus their resources on the New Hampshire primary on
Jan. 27.

The student groups have many reasons for supporting their
respective candidates.

Members of Students for Dean said they admire his grassroots
campaign.

“The house calls have been a great way of educating people
about Dean’s stances on the issues and getting them to
support him,” said LSA sophomore Libby Benton, vice-chair of
Students for Dean.

House calls are gatherings held at the homes of Dean supporters
and are open to anyone to attend.

Benton also said Dean has utilized (ITAL) www.meetup.com (ITAL)
to form small groups of supporters across the nation. The website
allows people with similar interests to organize on a local
level.

With regards to the issues, Dean has attracted many followers
with his anti-war stance and multilateral approach to foreign
affairs. Benton said she also liked that Dean is a fiscal
conservative, meaning that he would not build up a large national
debt that would have to be paid off over a long period of time.

Students for John Edwards Co-chair Rob Devore said he thinks the
North Carolina senator is sincere about his platform.

“In the debates, it is easy to see that he is the only
candidate who answers reporters and audience members’
questions seriously and thoughtfully and he is always willing to
explain his plans fully,” Devore, an LSA senior said.

Devore added that he likes Edwards’ plans for higher
education, which would make college tuition free for the first year
for students who attend public colleges and who are willing to work
part-time for 10 hours or more. He also supports tax credits for
students and their parents.

“That’s obviously something that’s going to
help all students,” Devore said.

Ilya Ross, chair of Students for Dick Gephardt, said he and
other students support the Missouri congressman because he appeals
to traditional Democratic constituencies such as union workers,
activists and minorities.

He added that he thinks Gephardt has the best chance of the
eight Democratic candidates to prevail over President Bush in the
general elections in November.

“He is often touted as the son of the Midwest, and
that’s very important because he can win big states like
Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” Ross, an LSA junior,
said.

He also said Gephardt’s platform includes a health care
plan that would cover all Americans, an international minimum wage
and tax credits of up to $10,000 for parents sending their children
to college.

He also formulated a project called Teacher Corps, modeled after
the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, which pays the college
loans of people willing to spend five years teaching wherever
needed.

Like Gephardt supporters, Clark advocates said he has a good
chance of beating the current president. “

Students for Clark Co-chair Courtney Kennedy said Clark’s
military experience gives him an extra edge in beating Bush because
with the exception of Kerry, no other candidate has served in the
armed forces let alone, a supreme allied NATO commander during the
war in Kosovo.

“He favors a multilateral approach to foreign affairs, and
given his past experience, I think he would be good at achieving
that,” Kennedy said. “Bush went into Iraq without the
support of many other nations in the world and Clark was against
that.”

In regard to student interests, Clark supports a tuition cap and
a plan that gives $6,000 to students to help pay for the first two
years of college.

A project called the Civilian Reserve is also part of his
platform, and would recruit volunteers to serve if there is a
national crisis.

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