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Gephardt Works to Be the Comeback Kid
By London Ball, 10, and Ryan Nuckolls, 11
Scholastic Student Reporters


London Ball (left) and Ryan Nuckolls (right) interview candidate Richard Gephardt at an event in Pella, Iowa, on January 18, one day before the caucus. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
Sunday, January 18—On the last full day of the campaign in Iowa, Congressman Dick Gephardt spent his time in rural Iowa. Although he won Iowa in 1988, the headlines today put him in fourth place. Two other candidates, Senators John Edwards of North Carolina and John Kerry of Massachusetts, turned the tables on Gephardt and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in the Des Moines Register popularity poll. The poll was released Saturday night.

"The only poll that counts is the one that's taken Monday night. That's when the people speak," Gephardt told Scholastic News Online in an interview in Pella, Iowa.

"And I'm going to win on Monday night because I'm going to get more people standing for my candidacy than the others," he added

Gephardt met with about 75 supporters at the Senior Center in Pella, emphasizing his common roots and his connection to real people.

"I come from the same place that most of the people in the country come from," Gephardt said. "I know what it is to struggle to make ends meet to raise a family and get things done."

He talked about his son, Matt, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 18 months. He was given four weeks to live. Because Gephardt's family had health insurance that covered experimental treatments, Matt Gephardt is 33 years old today, his father said.

"If he didn't have insurance, he wouldn't be alive. He wouldn't be here," Gephardt said. "So I get this. I've lived it. Human will power gets tough things done. Just know that with me, you will have a President with total human will power to get health insurance for everybody, and it can never be taken away."

He also spoke about his stands on the environment, creating jobs, and the war. He summed it up for Scholastic News Online, explaining that this is why he would ultimately win in Iowa, despite the polls.

"I have talked to Iowans about the things they want to accomplish in their lives: health care for all; a trade policy that will save jobs for our country; education of every child—nobody left behind, in reality—and an energy program that will make us independent of Middle Eastern oil."

Scholastic News Online also asked him what he would do about the war in Iraq.

"I would get help," Gephardt said. "We're over there almost alone. We didn't get the help from our big allies: the French, the Germans, and the Russians. I know how to deal with people, and I can get the help we need in Iraq and in Afghanistan and other places in the world. We need a President who can work well with anybody to get things done and that's what I'll do."

Gephardt came with his wife, Jane, and hid sister Nancy. He took questions from the crowd and met with a few people on his way out. One supporter who talked to Gephardt said afterward that he thought Gephardt would win because of his experience in government service. Gephardt has been a Congressman for 27 years.

"I've known him for a long time," said Davis County farmer Ralph Johnson. "He's a very important person, and he can get things done."

Johnson explained why Iowa is so important to the political process in America.

"We set the pace for the entire nation because we get to meet with each candidate and we get to ask them questions," Johnson said.

As the first major presidential contest, Iowa is just the beginning for the presidential candidates. Those who survive the Iowa caucuses have only a week until the next battle. Voters in New Hampshire will go to the polls in a primary election on Tuesday, January 27.