George Mitchell, Vanessa Kerry stump for John Kerry

In next Tuesday’s presidential election, Americans have a choice between “fear and hope,” former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell told an audience of about 100 at Bates College at midday Thursday, Oct. 28. Speaking in support of Sen. John Kerry and presented by the Bates Democrats, the Maine Democrat was the one of the latest in a series of notable figures campaigning here on behalf of the presidential candidates.

Vanessa Kerry, the candidate’s 27-year-old daughter who is

studying health policy and economics in London, followed Mitchell by a day when she addressed a crowd of about 150 at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, in Chase Hall Lounge. Kerry urged students to go to the polls on Nov. 2 and vote.

While his brief talk emphasized familiar themes from the Kerry playbook, the venue, the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, had special significance for Mitchell, a former Muskie protégé and successor to his Senate seat. A member of the Bates class of 1936, Muskie was the prime mover behind landmark U.S. environmental laws including the Clean Air Act — a measure revised under Mitchell’s Senate leadership and enacted in 1990 with support from President George H.W. Bush. It’s “one of the great ironies of recent history,” Mitchell said, that the son of the first President Bush now seeks to roll back national environmental protections.

In his conclusion, Mitchell linked Kerry with bedrock American ideals and said that the Massachusetts senator represented hope and a new direction for Americans.

The audience included 19 fifth-graders from Lewiston’s St. Joseph’s School. “We’re not supporting Kerry or Bush,” explained their teacher, Pandora Lawler. “We’re just here to learn.”

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