Scholastic Student Reporter
"I support John Kerry because of his commitment to ensuring that the children of this country have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential," Abdul-Samad said.
Kerry began the day with news headlines about a recent popularity poll putting him at the top in the race for President. He had been trailing the other three main candidates competing in Iowa: Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, and John Edwards.
Kerry spoke to around 150 supporters at Creative Visions about his years in the military and when he fought in the Vietnam War. He introduced several decorated veterans who support Kerry, even though they are Republicans. After speaking, he took questions from the crowd, like in a town hall meeting.
He also met briefly with Scholastic Student Reporters to talk about his stand on the Department of Agriculture. Competitors Dean and Gephardt have used a Kerry quote from a 1996 newspaper interview to hurt Kerry in Iowa, a farm state. Kerry was quoted as saying he wanted to get rid of the Agriculture Department, "or at least render it three-quarters the size it is today." He said in 1996 that there were more agriculture bureaucrats than farmers in America. The U.S. Department of Agriculture decides which farms will receive government subsidies, or funds.
When asked how he would change the Agriculture Department and how that would help Iowans, Kerry told Scholastic News Online he wanted to change the department's policies to protect the family farm.
"Right now, what's happened is that too many of the big farms are getting most of the [subsidies]," he said. "What I want to do is see the money come to the farmers at the small level. A lot of family farmers that I've met in Iowa want to get their money at the market place, not at the mailbox. We're trying to have an Agriculture Department that really helps family farms a lot more than we're doing today."