Caucus candidates court Cornellians

In a tightly contested caucus season, Cornell became a hot spot for candidates and campaigns to spread their messages to Iowa voters in the final weeks before the Jan. 3 caucuses.

While Cornell endorses no candidate or party, it does actively encourage students to partake in the democratic process and encourages political discourse of all kinds. And when the early caucus date threatened to keep students from participating over winter break, Cornell responded and opened Merner Hall to the politically-minded student.

So, in the last weeks of fourth block, Sen. Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (on behalf of Sen. Hillary Clinton), and Gov. Bill Richardson all called on Cornellians. What resulted was impassioned discussion, inquisitive questioning, and the kind of democratic participation you can only find in Iowa.

The largest of the three events was held in the Small Multi-Sport Center for Sen. Obama. In front of a crowd of over 1,000 students, faculty, staff, and community members, Obama outlined an expansion of national service broad in scope and heavy in idealism.

Albright’s gathering on the Orange Carpet was more intimate, but certainly not lacking in gravitas. The former Secretary of State spoke on a myriad of international issues, including American policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Israel.

Finally, Gov. Richardson filled Kimmel Theatre, and turned a scheduled 15-minute speech into nearly an hour by answering more questions than the rest of the political visitors combined. At one point he simply collected questions from the audience en masse to be answered all at once, even dismissing his staff’s time objections to spend more time with the audience.