Young delegates prepare for Democratic convention

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 | 5:55 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Denise Gilmore came face to face with some pioneers of women’s suffrage while on a campaign for Hillary Clinton in a small Iowa town.
A group of 80- and 90-year-olds at a senior citizen’s home had tears streaming down their eyes as they recalled the difficult years for women voters following the passage of the 19th Amendment. Gilmore, 22, a senior at MU, said she thinks the Democratic National Convention is special because it takes place the same week as the 88th anniversary of the amendment that granted women voting rights in the United States on Aug. 26, 1920.
Gilmore said the excitement she felt in the senior citizen home was similar to what ran through her veins in Amsterdam in 2007 as she watched Europeans cheer for Clinton when she declared her candidacy in the U.S. presidential race.
“There, I realized the reputation Clinton has abroad, and she is what we need,” Gilmore said.
She said she now believes “you cannot be an idealist and be a politician. But there needs to be a balance.”
Gilmore, an outreach coordinator for the Minorities Retention Center at MU, along with Ian Mackey and Sam Hodge, will be heading to the Democratic National Convention. They attended a final fundraiser Sunday at a Columbia residence. Because it is their first presidential convention, they were quick to express their excitement.  
“We’ve looked at it as the next step in adding our voice to the democratic process,” said Mackey, 21.  
Hodge, 22, will be missing his first week of law school at Drake University in Iowa to place his vote at the convention.
“We’re a part of history,” he said. “Barack and Hillary are both historic nominees.”
All three are pledged Clinton delegates, Mackey for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District and Gilmore and Hodge for the 9th Congressional District. Each was voted in this spring by his or her district after making house calls and giving two-minute speeches at district caucuses. As a part of her speech, Gilmore noted that she had campaigned through spring break while many others were on vacation.
Gilmore said her support for Clinton grows primarily out of Clinton’s “many more years of experience than Obama.” She said that in 1994 during Bill Clinton’s tenure in the White House, Hillary Clinton “had predicted the health care crisis but was shut up because she was a woman.”
Despite the trio’s loyalties to the Clinton camp, though, the rift in the Democratic party is forgotten and “East Coast and West Coast will fall behind Obama,” Hodge said. “I will do what Hillary told me to do.”
Gilmore, who brought a circular cake resembling the Obama campaign’s logo to auction at the fundraiser, said she still wants to use the opportunity to vote for Clinton.
“It will be a sort of consolation,” she said.
Mackey, an early childhood education major entering his senior year at Westminster College in Fulton, said he hoped for a Clinton victory because he thought her education plan would be more effective than Obama’s.
As a delegate, he will be speaking at a school in Denver that teaches in Mandarin and French. While at the convention, Mackey will be staying with a family friend whose children attend the school.
He said he hopes to talk about “some positive aspects of politics to children who still do not have cynicism toward it.”
The delegates are three of the 70 going to the convention from Missouri.
At Sunday’s fundraiser, $529.50 was raised, and an additional $240 was sent in. The total raised to support the three delegates was around $2,200. The delegates intend to use the money for their food, lodging and travel expenses, which typically run about $2,000 per delegate.

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Virginia Harris August 21, 2008 | 7:15 p.m.

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