Politician stresses involvement

Matt Kuhns

Lack of political involvement by citizens is the greatest ally of special interests, said U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., during a speech Monday at Iowa State.

Wellstone, a possible presidential candidate in 2000, said there is too much money in politics today, but he said “citizen politics can overwhelm money politics.”

Speaking to about 60 people assembled in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union, Wellstone peppered his opening remarks with a few jokes and then moved on to more serious topics.

He called for private citizens to become more involved in politics, describing “real patriots” as people who take time from their personal lives to be involved in public affairs.

“Democracy isn’t a privilege, it’s a responsibility,” Wellstone said.

Wellstone spoke about visiting low-income areas around the country, and he said problems are the same throughout America because all people need good jobs, fair wages and equal opportunity.

Calling the United States the most affluent country in the world, he asked, “Why aren’t we doing better?”

Wellstone, who is serving his second term in the Senate, said repeatedly that “good education, good health care and good jobs” are the keys to solving America’s problems, both domestic and international.

“Here in the United States … it’s not right we don’t have universal, affordable, dignified health care,” Wellstone said.

“Each and every child ought to have the same chance to reach his or her potential,” he said, adding that his campaign will focus on that idea.

Wellstone said he is making an “exploratory bid” for the presidency, but for now, he said he intends to continue seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

When asked how he sees his chances against Vice President Al Gore, Wellstone said he is confident he can win the nomination.

He said his campaign will focus on getting all Americans involved, not just big money donors.

“I know where my strength is,” Wellstone said.