Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) encouraged University of Nevada-Reno students to vote and discussed the economy, budget cuts and energy while students crowded around him in Hilliard Plaza Tuesday afternoon.
You young people assembled can really make this election in Nevada, Reid said. You have to vote. I hope you would all make a commitment to yourself to make a difference.
Reid said the youth vote is especially exciting because young people have open minds and arent concerned about race or gender. With Washoe County being a swing county in a swing state, he said students could tip the upcoming presidential race one way or the other.
Reid supported Sen. Barack Obama in his remarks at the event, evoking cheers from the crowd.
I thought it showed how much he cares about the state and the student vote, said Geoff Scott, treasurer of the Young Democrats, the group that helped execute the event.
Scott said he also liked Reids stance on stimulating the economy by building and renovating public works such as roads, bridges and dams to create jobs.
Several students asked questions about the recent budget cuts and its affects on higher education.
I dont think a childs ability to be educated should be dependent on how much money their parents have, Reid said. Education is the key to what goes on in America today.
Reid said reforming the No Child Left Behind Act and stimulating the economy needed to be priorities.
One spectator asked Reid to share his thoughts specifically about UNR and other universities budgets being cut.
Im not going to get into the governor, well just drop that subject for now, Reid said, drawing laughter from the audience.
Kathryn Rice asked Reid what the country should expect about future drilling and renewable resources.
Reid said the key is lessening dependence on foreign oil.
Its good to hear hes not for drilling and that hes for renewables, but I wanted more specifics, the 22-year-old neuroscience major said.
Several students said they wished the senator addressed their questions more specifically, but said they understood he was under a time constraint.
The gathering blocked parts of the plaza sidewalk while Reid met with students for about 40 minutes shaking hands, making small talk and posing for pictures.
Scott of the Young Dems said he thought Reids visit was successful, but had hoped for a better turn out. The group ran out of pizza after giving students free slices from 50 boxes.
Matt Polasko, a 19-year-old chemical engineering major, said he showed up to the event for the free pizza and to meet Reid.
I think its important that we bring policy makers to Reno because this school is often overlooked in the national scheme, Polasko said.