John Kerry will visit UCSD

    Likely Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) will speak at a rally in Price Center Plaza on March 30 as part of a visit to the San Diego area. Students and others can enter the plaza through the northeast entrance near the shuttle loop beginning at 8:30 a.m.

    The rally will consist of entertainment and speeches by Kerry, A.S. President Jeremy Paul Gallagher and an unannounced special guest. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are advised to arrive early and allow plenty of time to pass through security.

    The visit by Kerry marks the first time a presidential candidate has visited UCSD on the general election campaign trail. Kerry is certainly one of the most well-known political figures to visit campus since former president Bill Clinton spoke at commencement in 1997.

    “It’s really important for John Kerry to come to UCSD because it’s a wonderful way to educate students about current political issues, and it’s also wonderful to inspire people to vote and to take a strong stance in the future of their country,” A.S. Director of University Relations Jared Feldman said.

    Price Center will be sealed off beginning at 6:30 a.m. on the day of the event to allow the Secret Service to thoroughly search the complex. Current plans call for the food court to remain open and allow for limited access to UCSD Bookstore. Backpacks and signs will not be allowed in the plaza.

    “We’re really doing this to help to get out the vote for this coming election, the A.S.’s election, and also just to help fight political apathy here on campus,” Gallagher said.

    Kerry is expected to speak at 10:30 a.m. Local bands and entertainment groups will perform as people enter Price Center. Attendance in the plaza will be limited to 2,500 people, according to organizers, and overflow viewing will be available on the grass near Library Walk.

    “John Kerry, a major political candidate for president, coming to our campus means that UCSD is an important place that people need to pay attention to,” said Kate Maull, president of College Democrats at UCSD. “It means that we’re a prestigious university that the big powerful people come to when they need to appeal to the voters.”

    Political science professor Samuel Popkin expressed that Kerry is able to visit UCSD because he wrapped up the Democratic nomination earlier in the race than usual.

    “If you’re going to go visit old people in condos in Florida, they’re going to be there 12 months a year, but this is the best time to visit students before the fall,” Popkin said. “I’ll be as interested in watching our students’ reactions to Kerry as in watching Kerry.”

    Laura Capps, a spokesperson for the Kerry campaign, said that the candidate is a big fan of UCSD.

    “The energy and excitement that the students bring to this campaign is an important part of the campaign here on out,” Capps said. “He wants to get students motivated so that they work hard and help change the direction of this country.”

    Students with classes in Price Center Theater during the rally will be advised via e-mail about how to access the theater through a rear entrance, Gallagher said.

    “We’re expecting a lively political debate, so everyone should join in,” Director of University Communications Barry Jagoda said.

    According to organizers, Kerry’s appearance was not finalized until March 26.

    “I was talking with [campaign organizers] and it didn’t look like anything was going to quite materialize, and then we got a call just on Friday [Mar. 26] that they would definitely be interested [in appearing on campus],” Feldman said.

    Capps anticipates that Kerry’s speech will likely touch on soaring gasoline prices, among other hot-button issues of the campaign such as health care, jobs and the environment.

    “What he talks about here will be tailored not just to us, but what he wants to be conveyed from here to others,” Popkin said.

    Kerry’s San Diego visit includes a $1,000 per person luncheon fundraiser in La Jolla following his appearance at UCSD.

    The rally falls at the beginning of the campaign season for the A.S. elections. The general A.S. election will take place April 5 through April 7 and a runoff election will be held April 8 and April 9 of that week, if needed.

    “I think [the event] strengthens the community spirit here amongst the students at UCSD,” Gallagher said. “The A.S. is committed to putting on as many events, [doing] as much as we can to up student life here on campus.”

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