About 60 students showed up to listen to Howard Dean’s National House Call on Monday, Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the McDowell Formal Lounge. The event was taped by ABC for “Good Morning America.”
Dean beat the Guiness World Record for the world’s largest conference call with 3,557 calls - beating 3,310 people who phoned into a call hosted by British pop group S Club 7 in 2000.
“I’m so pleased that so many people came out,” freshman and host Ben Murray said. “It’s so great to be on a campus that is politically active.”
Murray hosted the event, which was supposed to be a few friends in his residence hall room, but ended up raising $110 in contributions for Dean’s campaign.
Rock singer Melissa Etheridge introduced the presidential candidate, saying that she knew in her heart that Dean would be the next President of the United States. Dean spoke briefly, but his emphasis was on “taking back America” from President George W. Bush and returning it to the American people. Lines were then opened for questions in which Dean answered questions about his stance on the environment, homosexuals in the military, AIDS and foreign policy.
“Dean’s providing new ideas for his campaign that is building a new American community,” said sophomore Steven Bielinski . “He’s getting new people involved in the political process, reinvigorating the grassroots movement and exciting the masses.”
Freshman Paul Perry felt the same way and said that the grassroots in support of Dean was revolutionizing politics.
“I’m here cause of my friend from Poland,” senior Jenny Lobasz said, a Dean supporter. “We came to either listen to a phone call that might be from the next president or at least be part of the world Guinness records.”
According to Dean’s official Web site, there were hundreds of house parties that collected donations across the nation, from private residents to students. Contributions helped Dean capture the record of the largest amount raised by a Democrat in a single quarter, beating President Bill Clinton. Final numbers are still being calculated, but the site indicated that it raised more than $14.8 million.
At the University of Houston, host Bridger Bell described 15 individuals who frantically pulled out their cell phones to call the conference call, but listened to it as a group on one speakerphone.
“I wanted to do this because I think Dean should be president,” Bell, a junior, said. “He’s gathered people together to share a common purpose and experience.”
Bell’s attendees were also signing petitions as well as planning volunteer activities for the month.
“It was really great,” Bell said. “We were only expecting eight people to show up and our goal was $200 but we raised $370.”
Rajiv Kumar, a junior at Brown University in Rhode Island, helped in hosting a Dean House call party in his dorm where he described 30 students eating pizza and cramped around a table with a speakerphone.
“It was like he was here with us in the dorm,” Kumar said. “We had fun sitting around, cheering in agreement and laughing along. There was excitement all around.”
According to Kumar, their house party was only the public party in Providence, R.I.
At George Washington University, about 50 individuals, students, alumni and professionals showed up from GWU and AU as well as from Maryland.
“The speech got people energized but of course most already came energized,” said co-host Ari Mittleman, a junior who has been attracted to the Dean campaign since last year October.
Mittleman said that while Dean was speaking, many staked out a spot in the room and there was a hush in the room with the occasional cheer or laughter. “It was like he was sitting right here,” Mittleman said, also mentioning that they raised over $200.
Mittleman also went on to say that after the call, attendees were really energized and excited about the rally on Friday and began making signs using poster board and markers that read “GW For Dean” and “GW Loves Dean.”
“It’s a really exciting event and even more so with grassroots being even more empowering,” said David Kinsey, president of Generation Dean at AU who also encouraged students to attend a rally on Friday as part of the Raise the Roots Tour.