NEW YORK — On a day when Democrats were unifying
the party faithful down in Washington, D.C., Republicans rolled into
unfamiliar territory with "Reggie the Registration Rig" and courted the
youth vote outside the MTV studios in Times Square.
At about the same time Democratic Party nominee John Kerry was
receiving an endorsement from Howard Dean on Thursday (see "Howard Dean
Gives Spirited Endorsement To John
Kerry"), a small brigade of GOP Team Leader volunteers with
clipboards and eager looks canvassed the sidewalks registering
passersby to vote in the upcoming election. The big rig, which featured
an unfolding stage and tons of techno-gadgets, provided background
music for the pedestrians as it pumped out the likes of Britney Spears,
the Darkness and Kanye West (the clean version).
Robert, a 17-year-old who arrived straight from school in Queens, was
jazzed at the idea of the RNC in NYC. "I usually get about 100 e-mails
a day from George Bush, and I read a few and delete the rest," he said.
"But when I saw this on the Drudge Report, I knew I had to go." Robert,
who proudly claimed to be the founding and only member of the fan club
for Republican National Commitee Chairman Ed Gillespie, had registered
nearly 50 new voters in two hours on the job.
About 100 Bush supporters turned out in front of the rig to wave their
signs at the MTV studio windows during "Total Request Live." "Babes for
Bush" and "Cabbies 4 Bush" were amongst them.
Not everyone in the Big Apple was a big fan of the GOP. Kevin
Collinsworth and some of his cohorts from Music for America — a
group which describes itself as a partisan nonprofit organization aimed
at getting 1 million new progressive voters to participate in the
upcoming election — joined about two dozen others who registered
their displeasure with the situation.
"[The volunteers] didn't think we were too cool," Collingsworth said.
"They asked us to go across the street because they had a permit for
this area." Collingsworth and his crew did manage to get a few of their
signs up for the "TRL" cameras, one of which poked fun at the RNC's
appearance by reading, "We're cool kids, we really are, just ask us."
But if yesterday’s RNC endeavor into the heart of pop culture is any
indication, the national parties are seeing the youth vote as an
increasingly important constituency to woo. A poll by the Vanishing
Voter Project showed nearly 50 percent of young adults 18 to 30 said they had
read, seen or heard an election news story within the past day. In
2000, only a third said that was the case.
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