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Kerry Vs.Weld Weld Vs. Kerry This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Kerry vs. Weld. Weld vs. Kerry. To many teenagers the important senatorial race in Massachusetts is the furthest thing from their minds. Politics? Most teenagers cannot even vote yet, but on September 22nd, at the World Trade Center in Boston, Senator Kerry and Governor Weld met in front of an audience of about four hundred teenagers. This Youth Forum, sponsored by Community Newspaper Co. and MTV, was an opportunity for the candidates to discuss issues which directly interested young people.

Enthusiasm and excitement about this event was everywhere. As students from area high schools arrived, you could hear everyone busy talking about questions one might ask. Balloons, Kerry signs, and Weld stickers were ubiquitous. One big attraction was the MTV "Choose or Lose" Touring Bus which encourages eligible voters to register. Although MTV provided the music, local radio stations had tables giving out plenty of free stickers, pins, clipboards, pens, and candy. By the end of the day everyone definitely had enough pins.

Once inside people found their specially made name tags for the event and their seats. The seats were quite comfortable with a fold-out mini table. As Kerry and Weld entered and shook hands, the swarm of the press and media surrounded them taking pictures left and right. Kerry certainly dressed more casually wearing a blue and white plaid shirt, while Weld was sporting a blazer and formal shirt, minus a tie. Kerry's first joke and remark was to let everyone know that this was not going to be Beavis and Butthead, and it certainly was not. The questions asked were well-thought out and diverse.

Kerry and Weld differed greatly about the issues. Kerry seemed very comfortable speaking to the audience, while Weld seemed stiffer and more formal. Right from the start Kerry won major points with the students. When asked about his greatest act of political courage, he responded by recounting his march on Washington with other Vietnam veterans to protest the funding of the war. When it came to the issue of teen violence, Kerry discussed his fight to personally place 100,000 police officers on the streets of our country. He also emphasized the importance of programs including the YMCA, YouthBuild, and Boys' and Girls' Clubs which provide positive choices and support for young people in need. He pointed out how Weld and the Republicans are in favor of cutting such programs from the budget. Kerry was also strong on the issue of education. He said that anyone who believes and works hard for education should deserve to go to college and lack of money should not stop them. While Republicans want to cut student loans, Kerry, along with President Clinton, wants to offer a $10,000 deduction for college. Kerry led the fight to put $2.7 billion back into loans. Kerry also talked about providing more positive choices for students as a way to help prevent teen pregnancy. To give younger people a different set of choices, he wants to set up structure, opportunities, and jobs.

Throughout the discussion Kerry repeated how Weld and the Republicans want to cut programs from the budget which affect average working families and the young in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy. This message, along with a positive and encouraging talk about the upcoming future for teenagers, gained him much support. A poll was taken which showed Kerry with a 47% approval rating while Weld's support was in the low 20s. After the debate, Kerry's approval went up to 62%.

Afterwards, everyone was given a bag of more free things including a "Choose or Lose" T-shirt, soda, candy, and stickers. There was plenty of delicious food also and plenty of news reporters roaming around asking students about their reactions. It was also exciting to meet Kerry or Weld personally and shake their hands. Even after it was all over, you could still remember the flash bulbs of the photographers, the smiles and handshakes from the candidates, and the excitement of the crowd. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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