Rep. Wasserman Schultz rallies UF students


Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz poses with University of Florida students on campus Monday.

Nathan Crabbe/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 1:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 1:44 p.m.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz rallied University of Florida students Tuesday to register to vote, downplaying the impact of last week's debate on the presidential race.

Her appearance came as volunteers for the Obama campaign swarmed campus registering students on the last day to do so in Florida. After delivering a campaign pitch to those volunteers, Wasserman Schultz said she wasn't worried that the debate had reinvigorated Republican president nominee Mitt Romney's campaign.

“We're not focused on polls, we're not focused on performances, which is what that was,” she said. “What Mitt Romney did last Wednesday night is he attempted to reinvent himself, to run from positions he's taken for 18 months. We're not going to let him get away with that.”

Wasserman Schultz, a U.S. representative from the Fort Lauderdale area, has deep UF ties. She earned both bachelor's and master's degrees from UF and was active in student government while here.

She isn't the only high-profile figure in Gainesville this week to campaign for President Barack Obama. Actor Jason Alexander, who played George Constanza on “Seinfeld,” is speaking at a campaign event today at 4 p.m. at the UF Hillel.

The events come as Obama's lackluster debate performance and Romney's strong showing have led to polls suggesting a close race.

One UF student said the debate caused her to update her registration address Tuesday with volunteers. Angelique Boutzoukas, a 20-year-biology major, said that Romney's performance made her want to cast a ballot for him in November.

“It kind of convinced me that I should vote rather than abstain from voting,” she said.

Some Obama volunteers said their enthusiasm for the president hasn't waned. Khalil Quinan, a 22-year-old native of Brazil, said he became a U.S. citizen in Jacksonville on Friday and registered to vote on the way home.

Quinan led an Obama campaign group at his Miami Beach high school in 2008, despite not yet being a citizen. Now an agricultural education and communication major at UF, he was excited that he was able to gain his citizenship before the registration deadline.

“I want my first vote for president to be for Barack Obama,” he said.

Wasserman Schultz insisted that students from UF and other colleges retained the enthusiasm for Obama that they had in the 2008 campaign. Students make up a major portion of the campaign's volunteers, she said, while events such as first lady Michelle Obama's speech at UF last month show continued excitement on campuses.

“The enthusiasm among our nation's youth and college students is pretty intense,” she said.

Contact staff reporter Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com. Visit www.thecampussun.com for more stories on the University of Florida.

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