Election Special Argives: “Gore Criticizes Bush in Campaign Stop at Freeman”

No, not in 2000. The article’s from 1992, when Al Gore was the Democratic vice presidential candidate, and the headline refers to the elder Bush, then running for reelection. If you’re confused as to why Gore would bother campaigning in the middle of Connecticut, consider that this was 1992; the red/blue state divide as we know it today wasn’t quite in place, and Connecticut swung right for Bush in 1988 and for Reagan in both 1984 and 1980.

So, on October 30, 1992, the VP candidate made his way to the relatively new Freeman Athletic Center, where he spoke for 35 minutes, “mostly criticizing President Bush, but also highlighting the ticket’s stance on the environment, healthcare, jobs and the Head Start program.” According to the piece, Gore spent the bulk of his speech attacking Bush in light of claims that the president knew about and was involved in the 1986 Iran-Contra Scandal. (Why these charges didn’t play a greater role in the election, I can’t say.)

Not all in the audience were solidly on board, though. The Argus article notes that a few Bush/Quayle supporters were physically ambushed when they registered their dissent:

A group of about 10 Republicans, including some from the University of Connecticut and Trinity College, snuck into a roped off crowd section in front of the media and held Bush-Quayle signs aloft as soon as Gore began to speak.

The Clinton-Gore advance team noticed the signs almost immediately and quickly directed people in the section to surround the Republicans.

Several Bush-Quayle signs were ripped out of the hands of the Republicans and torn up.

Among the Republican students quoted regarding the incident is Robert Alvarez ’96, whose name you might recognize from the Alpha Delt alumni board or from his outspokenness on need-blind:

Wesleyan Republicans president Robert Alvarez ’95 said group members silently holding signs aloft were “harassed and assaulted” by some people in the crowd. “It was atrocious,” he said.

The article also quotes Julia Chowdhury ’95, who may or may not be related to Metronaps co-founder Arshad Chowdhury ’98. In the same issue, the incident was the subject of a (what else?) Wespeak by James Cha ’94, who decried the “violence and intolerance” of the reaction. You probably could compare that confrontation to the quick security reaction to protestors at Scalia’s lecture last spring, except that it was Scalia—not the demonstrators—who comprised the conservative minority on Wesleyan’s campus that day.

Here’s full Argus coverage of Gore’s 1992 speech at Wesleyan, as well as this hilarious grainy photo of students watching election returns in WesWings that year.

[nggallery id=224]

  • Pingback: 2012: A Very Wesleying Year In Review – Wesleying()

  • Ha! This is a flash from the past. In case anyone cares, it was about 20 of us, with at least 15 being Wesleyan students. They were confiscating all signs on the way in (and giving out only their own inside), so we sneaked in 20 signs hidden in the lining of a long coat I wore. We had one guy on the inside who had a pass to the “exclusive” crowd section in front of the press cameras. We kept passing that ticket back over the fencing until we got everyone in. Our goal was simply to silently get the signs into all the camera shots to break up the narrative a bit, but some non-students (important to note) went a little nuts and got physical. There was pushing, one person (might have been Julia) got knocked to the ground, etc. Of course, this all happened in front of the press, which hurt the narrative even more than we intended. I think one person (forget who) might have even filed a complaint with the police over it. I know the Middletown Press ran a story about the altercation, and some of us were interviewed by TV crews after the speech. My friends on the Wesleyan Dems were pretty livid with me for “ruining” their event (especially after we spent the day harassing Clinton/Gore advance staffers who were trying to put Clinton signs all around campus on University property), but their winning the election four days later cooled everybody off.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.