'Change this country,' Gore tells students

September 19, 1992|By Susan Baer | Susan Baer,Staff Writer

The caption on a photograph of vice presidential candidate A Gore on page 1B of The Sun yesterday incorrectly identified a member of the Morgan State University choir. She is Sherry Hunt.

The Sun regrets the error.

Kicking off a nationwide student registration drive, Democratic vice presidential nominee Al Gore told students on Maryland college campuses yesterday that they could play a bigger role in this year's presidential race than in any previous election.

Speaking at an outdoor rally at Morgan State University and then later in the afternoon at the University of Maryland at College Park, the Tennessee senator cited the leadership of young people in such turning points of recent years as the crumbling of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

He implored them to take "that same spirit and change this country."

"Everywhere in the world when change has come swiftly and suddenly as a result of the non-violent movement of the people, it has come with young people leading the way," Mr. Gore told hundreds of students at Morgan State. "It is not an accident that it was young people who were in Tiananmen Square trying to overthrow that awful dictatorship."

He predicted that while student turnout has been meager in past elections, the Bush administration's failed economic policies would propel greater involvement by young voters this year: "Young people want a change this time."

At Morgan and at College Park, where hecklers often drowned out his speech with shouts of "Four More Years" and "Tell the Truth," Mr. Gore mapped out differences between the two rival campaigns on such issues as student aid and loans, health care, the environment and prescriptions for rebuilding the inner cities.

He roused the crowds with lines that have become highlights of his stump speech: "Unemployment is up, crime is up, personal income is down, real wages are down, bankruptcies are up, consumer confidence is down. Everything that ought to be down is up. Everything that ought to be up is down. They have it upside down, and we are going to turn it right side up."

He said the Bush-Quayle team showed "utter contempt for self-government" in refusing to debate under the terms laid out by the bipartisan commission, and led the audiences in his trademark "time for them to go" line.

But students here, like the electorate as a whole, were most interested in pocketbook issues and jobs.

"He didn't address the major issue I'm concerned about -- jobs," said Lamont Rogers, a junior at Morgan. "He didn't say anything about how college students like me are going to find a job after we graduate. All he did was the same thing Bush does -- demean the other person.

"I'm from what you might call the ghetto," the honors student from West Baltimore added. "And I'll end up back there if there are no jobs."

Economic issues hit home for College Park student Michelle Lombardo as well and, in fact, were driving her support of the Democratic ticket. Many of the English classes she needs to graduate had been canceled because of university budget cuts.

"A lot more students are involved in the election this year because the economy is affecting them," said the Crofton junior.

Polls show voters leaning heavily toward the Democratic ticket this election, with 18- to 24-year-olds among the most avid Clinton-Gore supporters. In a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, young voters supported the Clinton team, 2-to-1.

At the Morgan rally, Mr. Gore recalled that his young son was seriously injured and hospitalized in Baltimore after an Orioles game in April 1989, and said he and his wife would always have "a big place in our heart for the city of Baltimore. The city really reached out to us."

At his College Park appearance, Mr. Gore, author of the best-selling new book, "Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit," touched on environmental issues he's championed. He played to the young crowd by employing the "Wayne's World" cliche of the year when he said Mr. Bush had portrayed himself as "the environmental president -- NOT NOT NOT." A Clinton administration, he said, would lead the environmental movement.

"Al Gore is responsible for the political enthusiasm of the younger environmental community," said Owen Byrd, director of GreenVote, an organization of student environmentalists that attended yesterday's large College Park rally en masse.

The Tennessee senator also delivered an environmental message -- and a feisty attack on Mr. Bush -- earlier in the day when he testified before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on climate change. In pressing for a treaty to confront global warming and for the country to lead in the development of new environmentally friendly technology and products, he took swipes at the Bush administration for its "old foot-dragging, polluting" ways of the past.

"President Bush unfortunately is locked in the past. Here is a man who sees 20-year-old technology at the supermarket check-out line and looks like an ape discovering fire," he told his fellow senators to a roomful of laughter. "No wonder, when the Japanese and Europe come up with the idea of marketing these new technologies to clean up the environment and create jobs, he just can't imagine this is going to benefit our country. But it will."

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