Queens Is So Very Kerry

Senator John Kerry appeared to be the "king" of Queens on Monday, when he held a town hall meeting at York College, while Senator John Edwards, his Democratic contender in the March 2nd New York primary, canvassed voters in Manhattan.
Students from the predominantly minority city college, union workers and non-profit organizations filled most of the seats at Yorks Atrium and listened to the Massachusetts senators views on the economy, national security and healthcare.
"Theres nobody in the world the American people cant compete with," said Kerry, affirming his commitment to keeping jobs in the United States and making education a priority in the country.
In all his talk about jobs and the economy, the Democratic candidate did mention someone who should get a pink slip: "The one person in the United States who deserves to be laid off is George W. Bush."
On hand to introduce Kerry was Congressman Gregory Meeks, whose district encompasses the college and who was one of the first elected officials to endorse the senator.
"President Roosevelt gave you the New Deal," said Meeks in his opening remarks. "Harry Truman gave us the Fair Deal. Bush gave us the Raw Deal. And Kerry gave us the Real Deal."
Most of the attendees came away pleased with Kerrys responses during a question-and-answer session.
In one query, Kerry responded to concerns about small businesses, saying he had served on the Senates small business committee and, noting that 60% of the countrys workers are employed by them, understood their importance. He stated that federal grants for small businesses are being siphoned away by big businesses under the Bush administration and promised to get them back.
Joseph Dorismun, a member of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which recently gave the New Englander its endorsement, liked the answer he got about undocumented workers in the United States.
"Hes all the way for the working family," said Dorismun, noting Kerrys view of undocumented workers is much more sensitive than President George W. Bushs recently unveiled temporary worker program.
Cliff Desvarieux said he saw a real difference between Bush and Kerry. The young man reserved his most enthusiastic cheers for the senators views on national security, which decried what Kerry called Bushs unilateral approach.
Hoping that the senators words were not just an attempt to curry votes but to bring about change, Desvarieux said, "I hope it is more than campaigning."
Some in attendance were still not completely sold on either of the Democratic candidates or Bush.
A Republican repairman who works for York College and lives in Astoria stopped by the event to learn more about Kerry, because he wasnt happy with Bushs record in office.
"It doesnt look like they are looking into the future for children," said Glen, who did not want to give his last name. He was still holding out an opinion, but said he was leaning toward Edwards.
Kerry chose York College because he wanted to pick an area outside Manhattan that he felt better represented the citys make-up.
"York College is the soul of people: average, everyday working people trying to better themselves," said Congressman Meeks. "These are the real people. These are the real voters. Senator Kerry wanted to get a message to these people."

More from Around New York