Dems Battle It Out At Drexel U.

This story was written by Ashwin Shandilya, Daily Pennsylvanian
They do care.

Hundreds of college students, politicos and protesters donning skulls gathered on Tuesday night at Drexel University to show their support for -- and criticisms of -- the Democratic contenders for the presidency.

Drexel University hosted the fourth of six Democratic Primary debates for United States presidential candidates last night, drawing in seven of the eight Democratic candidates: Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del., Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Sen. John Edwards.

Mike Gravel was not allowed to attend because he failed to meet fundraising and polling requirements.

Most of the candidates used the platform -- moderated by NBC's Brian Williams and Tim Russert from Meet the Press -- to lob a string of attacks at Clinton, challenging her on everything from her relatively hawkish policy toward Iran to her fundraising sources.

Obama accused Clinton of "changing positions whenever it's politically convenient" and touted his own honesty and consensus-building skills in addressing economic and foreign policy problems.

The sharpest criticism came from Edwards, who accused Clinton of defending a "broken" and "corrupt" system by voting to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

At times, Clinton struggled to rebut the attacks, and when she backed off an earlier comment she made that supported issuing drivers licenses to illegal aliens, Edwards criticized her for "double-talk."

But in other instances, she remained resolute in her viewpoints, specifically her criticisms of the current administration.

"We've got to turn the page on George Bush and Dick Cheney," she said. "In fact, we have to throw the whole book away. This has been a disastrous period in American history, and we hope it will be aberration."

Other popular, student-relevant topics included Pell Grants and ways for students to pay off tuition by participating in military and community service.

The overall tense debate concluded with a lighthearted note: Kucinich said he had seen a U.F.O, and Obama discussed his Halloween costume -- possibly Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and a Republican presidential candidate.

Candidates also threw humorous attacks at other candidates.

Biden went after Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Republican presidential candidate, saying: "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11."

After the debate, Obama, Kucinich, Biden and Richardson spoke to more than 400 Drexel students at the nearby Mandell Theater.

School and city officials, including Michael Nutter, hoped the event would raise awareness about the mayoral elections next week.

Although Drexel's administration played a major part in bringing the debate to campus, beating Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, more than 140 Drexel student volunteers helped host the event.

The off-campus location didn't stop Penn students from attending: Junior Natalie Kelly, for example, came with two other Penn students to show her support for Edwards.

"He's a man of action," she said after Edwards briefly walked along Chestnut Street to meet with supporters. "I'm very excited that I got to shake his hand."
© 2007 Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE