Former DNC chair stumps for Obama on campus

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October 7, 2008

6:24 PM

“Let’s get some noise in here,” former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe said this afternoon as he entered the silent room. “You’d think it was a Republican fundraiser.”

The crowd burst into laughter. McAuliffe, who also chaired Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, was at the College of William and Mary stumping for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and discussed taxes and health care with the crowd of 50 while maintaining a jovial atmosphere.

“I’m very close to the Clintons; we vacation every year together,” he said, discussing his history with the Democratic party. “I was Bill Clinton’s chairman, was his finance chairman, chaired his convention, chaired his inaugural. Chaired his legal fund. Could have done without that one.”

He noted recent polls place Obama seven points ahead of Republican presidential candidate John McCain in Virginia.

“This [election] could truly be historic,” he said.

McAuliffe began by outlining Obama’s tax plan.

“Barack Obama’s plan give 95 percent of Americans a tax cut,” he said. “Everybody will get a tax cut unless you make over $250,000 a year.”

McAuliffe also said he personally has received six tax cuts in the past seven years thanks to his early business and financial success, but that many Americans received no tax cuts.

Obama, McAuliffe said, would repeal many of George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy. He also told the crowd, which included students and members of the Williamsburg community, that those 65 years of age or older making less than $50,000 would pay no federal taxes.

“I tell you all this because these ads are about to come in against us on taxes. ‘Democrats are going to tax you,’” he said. We’re the ones that end up with surpluses and balanced budgets.”

McAuliffe also discussed healthcare, adding that 1 million of the 47 million uninsured Americans live in Virginia.

“It’s probably the biggest issue facing Americans today,” he said.

He described Obama’s plan and noted that, unlike Hillary Clinton’s plan, Obama’s leaves almost 9 million Americans uninsured, it was still better than the Republican healthcare plan, which would leave more uninsured.

“The goal of this system is to get every American covered,” he said.

McAuliffe said that much of Obama’s plan revolves around streamlining and updating the nation’s healthcare system, which he described as “inefficient,” and advocating disease prevention and early detection.

“If we can get people in early on they can take better care of themselves,” he said. “Let’s be honest, if you want to smoke 12, 13 packs of cigarettes a day and eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts, that’s your right, but it’s not society’s responsibility to keep you healthy if you don’t do your fair share.”

McAuliffe advocated for a nationwide system to provide physician care for the uninsured to keep them from using emergency rooms as doctors.

“Don’t blame these people, they have no where else to go, and the care in an emergency room is three times more than if they were able to go to a physician,” he said. “We have got to get these 47 million people out of using emergency rooms as their doctors and actually get them quality care.”

McAuliffe also answered questions from the audience on topics such as the rumors he may run for governor of Virginia — “Call me on Nov. 5,” he said — voter fraud, torture and the economy.

Eleanor Shaw ’09 asked about job creation; the government major said she worried about finding work in the spring.

“I feel bad for you,” McAuliffe said. “It’s a hard economy for you to get out.”

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