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Gephardt Endorses Kerry in Michigan
By Travis Gonyou, 12
Scholastic Student Reporter


Congressman Dick Gephardt talks with Scholastic Student Reporter Travis Gonyou about why he endorsed his one-time rival Senator John Kerry. Click on the picture to read more about Travis. (Photo: Travis Gonyou)


Friday, February 6—Three weeks ago they were rivals for the presidency. Today, Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt endorsed Senator John Kerry at a campaign event in Warren, Michigan.

"John Kerry has stood up against the powerful special interests in this country for 35 years," Gephardt told Scholastic News Online. "He stood against Richard Nixon in the Vietnam War, he stood against George Bush's unwise and unfair tax cuts that mostly went to the wealthiest Americans, and he had the leadership ability to realize Harry Truman's dream for America, the democratic dream for America of getting every person covered with health insurance." Health insurance was a major plank in Gephardt's own campaign for President, which he abandoned after poor election returns in the Iowa caucuses in mid-January.

Gephardt announced his endorsement at a rally for Macomb County Democrats at DeCarlo's Convention Center in Warren, near Detroit. Kerry also received support and praise from Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and her husband, who is chair of Michigan Democrat's Kerry for President campaign.


Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm explains to Scholastic Student Reporter Travis Gonyou why she supports Senator John Kerry for President. Click on the picture to read more about Travis. (Photo: Travis Gonyou)


Politicians weren't the only ones on hand to show their support for the Massachusetts Senator: firefighters praised Kerry for his support of their jobs.

"Why do I support Kerry? Because Kerry has supported the firefighters," one firefighter told Scholastic News Online. "Always has and always will, as far as we're concerned."

Firefighters For—and Against—Kerry

The Gephardt and Granholm endorsements have made an already strong Kerry even stronger—especially in Michigan. Gephardt has traditionally been a favorite of union members around the nation and Michigan is a big union state. Union support is necessary to do well in Michigan, which is a big manufacturing state.

With that in mind, Kerry spoke about two main issues of concern to union members: healthcare and employment. He said that Bush has lost too many jobs for people and it is time to get them back. Health care should be available for all Americans and not just the wealthy.


Congressman Dick Gephardt shakes with Senator John Kerry after endorsing him for President at an event in Warren, Michigan, on February 6, one day before the Michigan caucuses. (Photo: Travis Gonyou)


But not everyone at the event in Warren was there to show their support of the Democratic hopeful. Protesters, including some firefighters, gathered outside the banquet hall with signs and their own slogans. One local firefighter held a sign that read: "This Fighter Is For Bush."

Scholastic News Online asked the firefighting critic why supported Bush. He said Democrats were the reason Warren firefighters had to battle for raises and better benefits.

"[We've been] four and a half years without a contract," he said. "Our Mayor is Democrat, our Congressman is a Democrat, our Governor is Democrat, and nobody comes to our help. So why should I support the Democrats?"

Kerry focused his attention on the supporters inside during his rally. He ended the rally with a now-familiar battle cry for Democrats opposed to Bush's policies in Iraq. "The Republicans want to run on national defense," Kerry said. "Here's what I have to say to that: Bring it on!"