Free t-shirts and clout.
That’s what seemed to be on the minds of the 250 students at a rally Oct. 14 for supporters of U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. The SDSU alumnus is currently locked in a race for his senate seat with Republican John Thune.
Flanked by security and staff, Daschle thanked students for their support, which he said was vitally important to his re-election.
“Whether or not this country makes the right choices depends on whether we get the right leaders in the next two weeks,” he said. “I appreciate from the bottom of my heart your willingness to be involved and your willingness to support this campaign.”
Daschle spent the majority of the 90-minute rally signing “Top 10 Reasons To Re-elect Tom Daschle”shirts handed out by the College Democrats.
“I skipped class for the free shirt,” said Mike Riedell, a political science junior from Brookings and a lifelong Daschle supporter. He said the biggest issue for him was the experience Daschle would bring to the job.
“I haven’t seen one good thing Thune’s done for South Dakota,” he said. “(The Thune campaign) always saying it’s time for a change, but Daschle’s been good for us, getting us money.”
Chad Meirose, an electrical engineering senior from Sioux Falls, said he thinks challenger John Thune wouldn’t be as free to stick up for his state.
“I don’t think Thune would do anything bad for South Dakota, but I think the partisan politics are a little stronger when you’re lower on the totem pole,” he said.
But not everyone at the rally felt that way. Matt Poppens, a pre-vet freshman from Omaha, Neb., wore a “Students for Thune” shirt to the rally. He said Daschle’s day as the party leader in the Senate might be over, even if he gets reelected.
“In a lot of his commercials he says he’s the minority leader and all that,” he said. “But if he gets re-elected, he won’t be the minority leader anymore, and I’ll bet money on that.”
Some prominent publications and political watchers have said Daschle might lose his Senate leadership position, and therefore some of his much-heralded clout, if re-elected. Others have just as strenuously insisted Daschle has a lock on his position.
Names thrown around as replacements have included Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., but in a post-rally interview with the Collegian, Daschle said he didn’t fear for his leadership job if re-elected.
“I haven’t had opposition now for 10 years,” he said. “Harry Reid and Chris Dodd are two of my closest friends, and have already said they’d campaign for me if ever there was any opposition. They’ve become two of my best allies.”
Daschle also said he’s made an effort to have a campus vote push part of his campaign.
“Campuses in some ways have not been given the attention that I think they deserve in the last elections,” he said. “So we’ve really made an intense effort to change that.”
Whitney Toupel, a freshman from Aberdeen, said her roommate is probably going to vote for Thune just to go against her, but she hasn’t given up hope yet.
“I’m going to get her to vote for Daschle,” she said.
Daschle’s opponent John Thune will also be also making a campaign stop in Brookings. He will host a movie night at Cinema 5 movie theater Thursday at 9 p.m.
Students who wish to go should go online to www.studentsforthune.com to sign up for free popcorn, pop and movie ticket.
Thune will introduce the movie and will be on hand to answer students’ questions about himself.
#1.885835:2362419324.jpg:daschle2.jpg:U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle signs a t-shirt for Kristie Storms, a freshman sociology major, following the political rally Oct. 14. Daschle is an SDSU alumnus currently running for reelection Nov. 2.:Jerry Smith