Presidential hopeful visits area school

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2003

LAKE MILLS, Iowa &045; When a representative of Democratic candidate Howard Dean visited government classes at Lake Mills Community school, a student joked, &uot;Why doesn’t Dean come talk to us?&uot;

His question was answered Tuesday with a visit from Dean.

The governor of Vermont spoke to students and members of the Iowa community in an auditorium loaded with Dean paraphernalia. One homemade sign read &uot;Get on the Dean’s List.&uot;

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Although he spoke about other issues, the most emphasized was voter turnout. Standing on a stage full of recently franchised students, Dean said, &uot;Your age group has the lowest voting rate &045; but (candidates) don’t give you a reason to vote. We have not shown you the difference between Democrats and Republicans.&uot;

Dean attempted to show the difference between his and others’ platforms by talking about the economy, the war in Iraq and health insurance. He said President George Bush’s tax cut was money that could have been used for Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and for special education.

In addition to those areas, Dean said he would have allocated some funds for infrastructure, such as roads and mass transit, which also would provide jobs.

Dean also mentioned health care. He said, &uot;Almost all countries that you can think of have health insurance for all their people. We don’t.&uot; A doctor, Dean said he wanted to ensure health insurance for all Americans.

Finally, the governor said that though he supported the war in Iraq during the first Bush presidency, he did not support it during the current Bush administration, uttering statements from Bush that he considered false.

He said Bush let Americans think that Saddam Hussein &uot;had something to do with 9-11.&uot; Dean said Bush had claimed that the Iraqi president bought uranium from foreign countries, which he also deemed inaccurate.

After his speech, the students were given an opportunity to ask Dean questions, ranging from serious to humorous.

One student asked about gun control. Dean said while he favors background checks and assault weapons bans, he thinks states should be able to make their own gun control laws.

A young student from the K-12 school asked, &uot;Did you want to be president when you were a kid?&uot; Dean said no, explaining that he had also been a Wall Street broker, a doctor and then Vermont’s governor.

Visitors to the speech came for differing reasons, and the issues they expected to be covered varied.

Ben Creswell, a resident of Forest City, said the 2004 election will be the first in which he can vote. &uot;I want to make a good decision about who I vote for,&uot; he said.

Topics he hoped the governor would speak about were foreign policy and the economy. &uot;I want to know how he’s going to improve the economy and get us out of a recession,&uot; Creswell said.

Betty Tiadman’s grandson is a student at Lake Mills Community School. She wanted to hear about &uot;the war that we’re in, and benefits for health.&uot;

Resident Mark Peterson hoped Dean would talk about funding for college students, but Dean neglected that theme.

After the speech, many of the students, though rushing out to go home, said that they enjoyed the speech.

Mindy Bjelland said, &uot;I thought it was really good. It was beneficial for

(other students) because it provided them with information.&uot;

One high school senior said, &uot;I understood what he was talking about, but

some of the younger students probably didn’t understand.&uot;

Dean discussed historical items such as Head Start, the Berlin Wall and the first Iraq war.

The governor will finish up a tour of Iowa this week in an attempt to visit every county in the state.

(Contact Benjamin Dipman at or at 379-3439.)