The final week of campaigning before Election Day was highlighted by an appearance from California Attorney General Kamala Harris as organizations focused on voter turnout initiatives.
Harris visited the Beasley School of Law on Thursday, Nov. 1, on behalf of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign to mobilize his supporters into action.
After introductory remarks from Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who is also an adjunct professor at Temple, Harris took the stage in Klein Hall to address more than 50 attendees composed of law students, alumni and community members.
“The outcome of the election can come down to a few votes in a swing state,” Harris said. “What you do in the next [few] days is going to have everything to do with the outcome of this election.”
During the half-hour presentation, Harris urged the audience to reach out to their communities in order to increase voter turnout.
“There are two things that give constituencies power in politics, unfortunately,” Harris said. “The ability to write a check or turning out to vote.”
“Vote is the expression of one’s voice,” Harris added. “Make sure everyone knows that their voice matters, take the role of leadership.”
Outside of voter turnout, Harris spoke about how the election is framed in terms of public policy, not just the re-election of the president.
In relation to students, Harris described how the president has dealt with student debt by doubling the funding for Pell Grants. She then touched on the issue of personal choice, and how individuals should be able to make decisions about their own bodies and lives.
“Do we want a society that tells us that we are not capable of making a decision, that it would [be] made for us?” Harris said.
In this regard, Harris asked law students to reflect upon the power of the president to appoint Supreme Court justices, its impact on public policy and the likelihood of new appointments in the next four years.
Dylan Morpurgo, president of Temple College Democrats, said the presentation was “inspiring” and called Harris “really entertaining.” Morpurgo also highlighted the organization’s mobilization efforts in the final days before the election.
He said TCD volunteers have been working to get out the vote on Obama’s behalf on Main Campus and, specifically, in residence halls.
Vice Chair of the Temple University College Republicans Darin Bartholomew said his organization has been participating in phone banks in order to lobby for Gov. Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates.
“There’s been a lot of enthusiasm in all races, not just the one at the top,” Bartholomew said.
Bartholomew added that during the election season, TUCR has seen record attendance at its meetings and a lot of participation from its members in campaign-related events.
Both groups were scheduled to hold a debate on Tuesday, Oct. 30, but had to cancel it because of Hurricane Sandy.
While Bartholomew has been lobbying for the Republican candidate, he said he hopes that each side of the ticket respects the outcome of the election.
“I hope that everyone is respectful, win or lose,” Bartholomew said. “It’s about what’s best for America at the end of the day.”
Laura Ordonez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.