Daschle, Herseth address enthusiastic crowd U.S. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, and Rep. Stephanie Herseth speak to students at the Coyote Student Center on the USD campus Wednesday afternoon. They were warmly greeted by a partisan crowd that waved signs, and wore campaign stickers and t-shirts. by David Lias U.S. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth didn�t have to search for supporters Wednesday afternoon.
A standing-room-only crowd, made up mainly of University of South Dakota students, with a few faculty members and adults from the Vermillion community thrown into the mix, gave the two Democrats a warm welcome.
Herseth, who is being challenged in the Nov. 2 general election by Republican Larry Diedrich, said it was important for her to return to Washington to work on issues important to students and rural America.
Daschle, who is facing the political race of his life as he campaigns against former Rep. John Thune, told the crowd it is important he return to the U.S. Senate to continue his leadership role on South Dakota�s behalf.
�Here we are once again in high profile races in South Dakota and across the country for the United States Senate and the United States House,� Herseth said. �To be on campus and to feel the energy and enthusiasm of all of the students and members of the Vermillion community who are here is a tremendous testament to the strength of democracy in action.�
Many issues currently facing Congress, Herseth, are important to South Dakota�s young people and their future.
�Issues like financing your higher education ? I want you to know that I�m working hard to make sure the Pell Grant program keeps pace with the rising cost of tuition across the state and across the country, and that we do more with loan consolidation programs.�
Congress must also deal with a growing national deficit, she said.
�The best way to address that situation is to work hard to lower the deficit so it doesn�t down to you, your children, our grandchildren to finance what we�re doing right now today,� Herseth said.
Daschle looked out over an audience waving signs and wearing stickers and shirts from his campaign office.
�This really illustrates the reason why we should be as optimistic as we are about our prospects over the next three weeks,� he said.
Daschle told the crowd his desk on the Senate floor has been occupied by Senate minority leaders throughout the nation�s recent history, and by custom, they have even carved their names in it.
�I am reminded every single day that the desk today belongs to the people of South Dakota,� he said. �It�s our opportunity to make that desk work for the people of South Dakota in every way, shape or form.�
Daschle ticked off a number his accomplishments that are having a positive effect in the state.
�The fact that we created an ethanol industry now that is creating 400 million gallons ? all of that would have come from the Persian Gulf in the form of oil if we had not been producing it right here. And with that, a lot of new jobs came into the state,� he said.
Daschle said South Dakota also can be proud of building some of the finest educational institutions in the country, including USD.
�We look back with great satisfaction at the partnership we�ve created among the federal, state and local governments,� the senator said, �but there is so much more to do.�
Daschle said he will not be satisfied in his role in the Senate until every young college student in the South Dakota has a job waiting for him or her in the state.
�I will not be satisfied until those who are dedicated to education � our teachers and our professors � get the kind of salaries they deserve, he said. �I won�t be satisfied until every single person, regardless of their circumstance ? has health insurance at a reasonable cost.�