Lieberman makes UCSD stop on campaign trail

    Presidential hopeful and Sen. Lieberman, D-Conn., delivered a speech on the current economic climate in the United States at UCSD’s Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies’ Robinson Auditorium on May 28.

    Tibora Girczyc-Blum
    Guardian

    Lieberman spoke to a crowd of roughly 150 students, faculty and community members on the topic of “”Growing the Innovation Economy: A New Strategy for a New Prosperity.”” The Democratic presidential candidate spoke about the need for the United States to foster innovation and advances in technology.

    The event was kicked off by Vice Chancellor of External Relations James E. Langley, who welcomed the audience and spoke briefly about UCSD’s role as a leader in innovation and technological advancement.

    “”After Sept. 11, [Chancellor Robert C. Dynes] said that UCSD, the fifth-largest recipient of federal research funds in the country, could no longer be in the business of just research and development; that from now on we must be in the business of research, development and delivery,”” Langley said. “”It is in that context that Senator Lieberman is here to address this group.””

    Lieberman’s speech traced the technological advances of the United States’ history and its impact on the economy. He also looked to the future and discussed how far an improved innovation economy could take the national economy.

    “”The affordable car, the transistor and the Internet: All these are inventions stamped with the label ‘made in America,'”” Lieberman said. “”Imagine what fields of commerce will grow through widespread deployment of broadband Internet access. Our quality of life … will change for the better.””

    Lieberman outlined an economic plan that called for a 3 percent growth in national productivity per year, which he said will double family incomes every generation.

    “”I really appreciated that it was such a well-thought-out, substantive presentation,”” IR/PS professor Susan Shirk said. “”This was a policy talk and not a political campaign talk. Of course, he is running for president and he wants people to support him … but it was a very meaty speech.””

    The speech was not without its political jabs at President George W. Bush and campaign-like promises for change.

    “”The administration of George W. Bush has an old economic plan for a new-world economy,”” Lieberman said. “”In doing so, it has let the sparks of innovation fall to the floor. As your next president, I will make sure those sparks are kindled into a bigger fire that will light and grow our economy and create jobs. That is my promise””

    Aysha Handley, an IR/PS first-year student, said she was not entirely impressed with Lieberman’s speech.

    “”I thought [the speech] was all right,”” Handley said. “”It was vague, like all political speeches. He spoke about innovation because he knows that that is what we believe in.””

    In addition, not everyone agreed with Lieberman’s message. Supporters of Lyndon LaRouche’s presidential bid asked three of the six questions during the question-and-answer period that followed the speech.

    The questions ranged from why Lieberman was going away from “”the politics of FDR”” with his economic strategies, to those making accusations of links to organized crime. One of the LaRouche supporters was escorted out of the auditorium after refusing to relinquish control of the microphone.

    “”The event was pretty terrible,”” said Nick Walsh, an organizer for the LaRouche campaign and one of the three who asked a question at the event. “”There was no real content. His plan for post-industrial policy is a fraud.””

    Other questions that Lieberman fielded included questions on the Bush administration’s handling of the war on terrorism and other foreign policy matters, on violence in the media and entertainment industry, and on the federal government’s involvement in rebuilding historical sites that are houses of worship.

    Despite the disturbance caused by LaRouche supporters, Langley said that the event went well. He pointed to the big-name speakers that have come to UCSD in recent weeks –Lieberman, Michael Dell, Bill Gates and an upcoming event with Michael Robertson — as a sign that the university has a lot of national respect.

    “”UCSD is becoming a place where people want to go to get their message out,”” Langley said.

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