Boxer hits hard at Chico State
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer visited the Chico State campus last Thursday, speaking before an audience comprised of more than a hundred supporters, along with a gaggle of high school kids and about a dozen Republican infiltrators.
The diminutive Boxer stood on a crate behind a podium in the Bell Memorial Auditorium and spoke about the need for quality health care, education and environmental regulations, which she said have been compromised by the Bush administration and would be further eroded if voters chose not to return her to the Senate.
Arriving a few minutes late, Boxer was introduced by Associated Students President Adam Dondro, whom Boxer in turn gave a pair of promotional boxer shorts. Chico Mayor Maureen Kirk, who had earlier announced some of the candidates for local elections and proclaimed her adoration for the two-term senator, was given a Barbara Boxer nightshirt.
Boxer, who so far holds a commanding lead in her senatorial race against former Republican state Assemblyman Bill Jones, derided her opponent for his hardcore conservative stands against abortion rights, environmental regulations and gun control.
“Bill Jones would make 90 percent of all abortions illegal,” she said. “That would mean turning women and doctors into criminals. Let’s not go back to those days.” Boxer also noted that Jones, known chiefly for authoring California’s “three strikes” crime bill, has voted against banning assault weapons and has been given low marks from conservationists for regularly voting against laws meant to protect the environment.
“One year he got a rating of zero. That’s hard to do. It’s hard to vote against every single environmental law,” Boxer said.
Tying her run against Jones to the much more heated presidential race, Boxer urged voters to back John Kerry in November, saying the country is at a crucial juncture. “Every once in a while the country gets in such a mess that we need new leadership,” she said. “This is one of those times, and John Kerry can provide that leadership.”
The audience was appreciative if not wildly enthusiastic, carrying signs that had been provided for them by Boxer’s staff. The dozen or so Republican activists, some wearing shirts reading, “This is what a conservative looks like,” were not overly disruptive, although they clearly annoyed many Democrats in the audience by chanting Bill Jones’ name when Boxer entered and raising a chorus of “four more years” when the senator mentioned President Bush.
Boxer was gracious to the protesters, pausing to shake one’s hand on her way to the podium and even welcoming them in her opening remarks.
She told the audience she wanted to make low-interest federal school loans available and make college tuition tax-deductible. She also touted a plan to give ordinary citizens the option of buying into the same health plan available to federal employees. On Iraq, she warned of the possibility of a draft and said the Bush administration made a mistake by asking Americans to shoulder most of the cost—almost $200 billion by her reckoning—and had "turned away from the great American tradition of leading alliances in the world."