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Votes

Teens, Minority Voters May Be Key to Dean's Candidacy

EDITOR'S NOTE: In 2004, more than 90 percent of all graduating seniors will vote for the first time in a presidential election. Last Thursday in Alexandria, Gov. Howard Dean, one of the nine Democratic presidential candidates, was guest at the annual Democratic Kennedy-King dinner and talked with one of those possible ’04 voters and discussed key issues.

Why should first-time voters vote for Howard Dean?

He said his campaign is the only one trying to get teens to vote.

"We treat teens like voters instead of just teenagers,” said the former Vermont governor.

His Web site shows “Generation Dean” as his youth organization. And, according to that site, there are nearly 700 Generation Dean organizations around the country, and they continue to grow.

Many 2004 high-school graduates are concerned about what the job market is going to be four years from now when they finish college. How will Dean, as president, ensure a better job market for that class than there is today or than there would be under George W. Bush?

“First, I would balance the budget, which no Republican president has done in 34 years,” Dean said. “And, I will invest in small businesses as opposed to large corporations.”

STATISTICALLY, Dean’s supporters tend to be well-educated, Internet-savvy, environmentally conscious and white. How does he intend to reach out to minorities in the country?

“I have already hired a number of senior members on the campaign that are minorities,” Dean said. “We have a fair amount of support from minorities.”

Dean’s children have already received a good deal of attention from the press, some favorable and some not so favorable. Dean has two children, a daughter in college and a son in high school. How has he protected them from the press since he has become a presidential candidate?

“My daughter actually worked on the campaign this summer,” Dean said. “And my son would be happy if the press would leave him alone.”

Dean's son was caught earlier this year stealing beer from a country club in Burlington, Vt.

Less than one third of eligible 18-year-olds in the United States will vote in the 2004 election.

Kaelyn Branch is the daughter of Gazette staff reporter Carla Branch.