Former President Bill Clinton paid a visit to Miami on Friday in support of Republican-turned-Democrat gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.
UM Young Democrats showed its midterm support Friday night, volunteering with the Crist campaign and earning themselves priority access to shake hands with the former president as well as Crist.
Young Democrats President Ishtpreet Singh emphasized the uniqueness of the situation, referencing Crist’s decision to switch parties.
“Even in his Republican term, he did some good things for the state,” Singh said. “That goes to show he can work with people from both parties.”
In addition to observing their shared notorious “white hair” style, Clinton noted their common political histories. Both previously served as governor and attorney general for their respective states.
If re-elected, Crist’s experience could make him a viable contender for the 2016 presidential election, making voter turn-out in this November’s election all the more important.
Historically, Clinton explained, Democrats get a bad rap for not showing up for the midterm elections. Clinton stressed the importance of being there every time they open the polls, not just every four years.
Clinton made it a point to relay this exact message in his speech, stressing the importance of cooperation over the current “divide and conquer strategy” of Washington. Clinton remarked that Crist is “proven” to bring people together.
Painting him and his party decision in a positive light, Clinton declared to the crowd that Crist did not leave the Republican Party; “the Republican Party left him.”
The main focus of the night was on Crist’s new plan for “working toward the common good,” involving an increase in minimum wage, equal pay for women, health care expansion, more federal funding for education and fair voting rights.
Voting has been an especially touchy subject among Florida residents due to the changing policies under current Governor Rick Scott’s term.
Clinton expressed his thoughts on these changes, saying that when someone messes with the right to vote, he “takes it personally.”
Crist showed his dedication to the issue during his term as governor when he restored voting rights for nonviolent ex-felons.
The UM Young Democrats share the goal of making voting easier for everyone, especially students. For that reason, Singh said he aims to eliminate the commonly accepted myth that out-of-state students are unable to vote in Florida.
Along with the rest of the UM Young Democrats, he plans to have forms widely available on campus to help students register to vote, and to provide sign up sheets for absentee ballots.
The student organization will seek to spark interest in the upcoming election by having at least one event every week up until Election Day.
Singh said they are already off to a great start – shaking hands with instrumental players in the political sphere only three days after their first meeting of the semester.
Now all he has to do is continue to show the UM student body that participating in politics is “cool.”