February 27, 2008

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School of Communication

Presidential candidates visits not uncommon

By Francis X. Bova III

In the early ‘90s, Cleveland State hired Dennis Kucinich as a part-time instructor in communications and political science. Years later, the 10th District congressman would run for president twice. So, the history between CSU and presidential candidates is not as uncommon as one might think.
Since Fenn College became CSU in 1964, the university has witnessed its own share of speeches, photo-ops and surprise visits from presidential candidates.
Perhaps the most memorable visit occurred in 1972 when then-Democratic Presidential Candidate and Sen. George McGovern rallied students with a speech on the steps of the Science building across from Fenn Tower.
McGovern, who would lose the election in a landslide to incumbent Richard Nixon, spoke out against the Vietnam War and Nixon’s affiliation with the Watergate scandal.
Robert Sargent Shriver Jr. was the other half of the Democrat ticket.
“I say that Richard Nixon owes the American people a full explanation of these unprecedented activities,” McGovern said in front of an estimated crowd of nearly 1,000, according to a story in The Cauldron. Weeks prior to his visit, professors on campus organized “Educators for McGovern/Shriver.”
In August of 1974, Nixon would resign from the presidency because of the Watergate scandal.
Years later, two former United States presidents visited the campus, while one candidate whose named only appeared on 31 state ballots showed up.
On the eve of the 1996 presidential election, the Democratic ticket of incumbent President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, a 2000 presidential candidate, were photographed holding Cleveland State sweatshirts as then-CSU President Dr. Claire Van Ummersen stood in between them.
In 1984, Republican vice presidential candidate George H. W. Bush, the 1988 president-elect, surprised the campus with a half-hour jog around the indoor track in Woodling Gym. Bush, who was in town to meet local Republicans, sported an “Ohio Reagan, Bush ‘84” T-shirt during the impromptu workout.
Back in 1980, Barry Commoner, an environmentalist and presidential candidate for the Citizens Party, gave a speech on campus.
But, a majority of CSU-related presidential candidates’ encounters were experienced through third parties over the years.
In 1968, the Cleveland headquarters of then-Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s bid for the Democratic nomination was located on 2032 Euclid Ave.
On Oct. 29 1976, Sidney Kraus, then-chairman of the Communication Department, gave a lecture on the “Politics of the Great Debates.” He went on to write a book about attending the four presidential debates that year between Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican Gerald Ford. The book, “The Great Debates: Carter vs. Ford, 1976” was published in 1979.
And Carter’s running mate that year, then-Minnesota Sen. Walter Mondale, allowed three WCSB reporters to tag along on their campaign’s bus as it drove around Cleveland, along with other members of the media.




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