FROM THE ARCHIVES – Elizabeth Dole addresses crowd at Kline Center


Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge (R-PA) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced Elizabeth Dole during her rally on a recent visit to campus.

By Chris Zubowicz – Managing Editor – Oct. 3, 1996


Trying to bolster support for her husband in a state that polls consistently show is within the grasp of either major presidential candidate, Elizabeth Dole, wife of Republican presidential nominee Robert J. Dole, addressed a crowd of approximately 2,200 in the College’s Kline Center on Saturday, September 21.

Dole Spoke at length about her husband and his plans for governing the United States should he be elected. She repeatedly discussed the issues that her husband has focused on during his campaign. Foremost among these themes was the need to address what is perceived by the candidate to be the nation’s rising crime rate, increasing drug use among teenagers, and the abysmal education of many Americans.

Overarching these three issues was Dole’s portrayal of the status of the economy during Clinton’s tenure in the White House. Her husband’s solution for the nation’s ailing economy is his oft-touted 15 percent income tax cut for all Americans. She brushed off detractors’ arguments that Dole will be unable to both balance the budget and cut taxes. Dole said that the Clinton administration lacks the will to do both, but “Bob Dole has made a promise” and “his word is his bond.”

Dole began the address by detailing some of her husband’s past, from his recovery from wounds incurred during World War II to his more recent desire to spend a Thanksgiving with some children who lived in the inner city of Washington D.C. She tied his adversity into the stance he would take on issues such as welfare reform. According to her, “he’ll strengthen the safety net” for those less fortunate in society simply because he can empathize with the struggles of others.

She then proceeded to cite various statistics and historical facts to try and persuade the audience that her husband would be a more appropriate president than Bill Clinton has been the last four years. From crime to drug use to poor education, Dole rattled off proposals that her husband supported, or would support, to lessen the adverse effects of each one of these societal problems.

After her speech, Dole spoke favorably of her husband’s stances on education reform and commented that “we’re doing very well with young people, because they know that all we’re doing is for them.” Ultimately, Dole stated that her husband’s support for things such as opportunity scholarships, which would allow students to choose to attend private or public schools, are going to make “life better for young people.”

After hearing the speech, A. Lee Fristchler, president of the College, said that “it was a very interesting event” and that he was “glad the campaign chose Dickinson.”

Even though the audience seemed pleased to see her at the College, Chris McMahon, associate professor of political science, said that “the crowd wasn’t as enthusiastic as it could have been.” There was little audience spontaneity throughout the address. During her speech, Dole repeatedly encouraged people to actively participate by doing things such as waving signs and booing President Clinton’s decision to raise taxes.

The impressions of the speech were very positive, according to sophomore Karim Youssef. Though he has considered himself a Clinton supporter, he is now “thinking about voting for Dole” after hearing the candidate’s wife speak.

James Sloat, instructor of political science, concurred with Youssef. “She’s a very impressive speaker.” He added that “she’s able to personalize Bob Dole so that we can see the man behind the policies” he supports.

While State Representative Al Masland (R-PA) said in his introductory remarks that the only poll that counts is the one taken on election day. Clinton’s hefty lead in most national polls was in the minds of those Republican Party leaders in attendance.

Governor Tom Ridge (R-PA), however, remains optimistic. According to him, when people become as familiar with Dole as he is, they will recognize that he is the best choice for America. When asked if the American people will be able to get to know the “real” Dole with less than six weeks left until the general election, he gave an unequivocal “yes,” citing Dole’s wife as proof positive that the message is getting out. “We have the ticket that has everyone excited,” he said.

Ridge cited grassroot support as the key to delivering the state’s electoral votes to Dole in November. “We’re really going to work hard through the state committee and county chairman to mobilize local support,” Ridge said.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) seconded Ridge’s statements, saying that “when people get to know Bob Dole the way I know him, he’s going to win.” When I asked if Dole would win Pennsylvania in November, Specter replied “absolutely.”