Republicans Drive Big Rig Into Heart Of NY To Register Voters

RNC supporters court youth vote to tune of Britney Spears and Kanye West.

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.

For more political news, insight into the 2004 presidential election

and information on registering to vote, check out