Dole visits enthusiastic crowd at Page

Elizabeth Dole, Woman's College '58, rode into Page Auditorium on the back of a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle to kick off a rally for her U.S. Senate campaign Thursday.

Dole climbed to the stage, took off her biker's jacket, and began speaking to a crowd of several hundred, composed of students from Duke and other local colleges.

She announced the formal launching of the Students for Dole the purpose of connecting to young voters in North Carolina and encouraging them to get involved and support her campaign.

The former American Red Cross president and wife of former senator Bob Dole, R-Kans., emphasized her Duke connections, noting that she was president of the Woman's College student government when she was an undergraduate and that The Chronicle named her Student Leader of the Year when she was a senior.

Dole said students should get out and vote to break what she called a "glass ceiling" hanging over the North Carolina Senate seats. "There's never been a woman senator from the state of North Carolina," she said.

The candidate described struggles she had faced in her career because she was a woman, including a story about her days at Harvard Law School, when another student told her she was taking the place of a potential male student who deserved to be there because "he would actually use his degree."

Dole also listed her campaign's top priorities, including greater benefits for military personnel, a conservative tax policy, a constitutional amendment allowing for a line-item veto and greater local control over education.

She said the current pay and benefits for members of the armed forces are insufficient, calling for "no more food stamps [and] no more substandard housing" for soldiers. The issue is a central one in North Carolina, home to military bases such as Fort Bragg.

Dole also said the education process in the United States needs to be reformed. She cited a recent survey that showed America ranks 16 out of 21 industrialized nations in terms of student proficiency in science, and 19 out of 21 in mathematics. She says the answer partly lies in greater local--as opposed to federal--control over public schools and better benefits for teachers. "We need to restore our public schools to greatness," she said.

Not all students, however, were enthusiastic with the alumna's return. A group of about 20 protesters gathered outside Page wielding anti-Dole signs. "We're protesting because Dole doesn't represent the views of the entire Durham community," protester Jason McLaughlin said. "You can't differentiate between Dole and [former senator Jesse] Helms on any of the issues; we don't want another Jesse Helms."

Many students who attended the rally said they left feeling more enthusiastic about Dole, virtually certain to win the Republican primary Sept. 10, and who will likely face North Carolina state legislator Dan Blue or former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles in the Nov. 5 general election.

Freshman Chris Morecroft said he enjoyed the rally. "Her presence, her compassion and the motorcycle kicked ass," he said.


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