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Donnelly talks about campaign strategies

Megan O'Neil | Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Indiana 2nd District congressional candidate Joe Donnelly spoke to the College Democrats at Saint Mary’s Monday about his campaign and possible involvement for young people. A Notre Dame graduate and Notre Dame law school alumnus, Donnelly said the November election was critical, along with and the race for Indiana’s 2nd District, one of the nation’s closest. “This is one of the hottest races in the country,” said Donnelly. “There is a 50-50 difference.”Reflecting on the 1986 Indiana congressional election that came down to 47 votes, Donnelly emphasized the significance of every individual voter. “You literally could go around to two or three dorms here and talk to residents and change the outcome of that election,” said Donnelly. The candidate urged his audience to engage themselves with local politics and exercise the right to vote. “When I hear young people saying ‘My vote doesn’t count,’ I shake my head because it has never counted more,” he said. It was this sense of civic obligation, said Donnelly that led him last summer to agree to run for the Indiana 2nd district congressional seat. Donnelly said running for office has given him the opportunity to do his duty for the country. “In my heart I felt I had not done my part,” said Donnelly. “I came in a little after Vietnam and a little before the Persian Gulf.”Donnelly said that his opponent, Republican Chris Chocola, makes for tough competition because his well-funded campaign allows him to run many more television ads than the challenger can.Instead, Donnelly has focused efforts on neighborhood walks and voter registration. The chance to meet possible future constituents, said Donnelly, has been the highlight of the campaign thus far and will continue until Nov. 2. “We will win by knocking on doors, handing out literature and talking to people,” he said. Differences in campaign tactics are not the only characteristic distinguishing him from his opponent, said Donnelly. One of the biggest distinctions, the candidate said, concerns the federal deficit. According to Donnelly, the U.S. government is currently $422 billion in debt, and that number would be much higher if Social Security funds were not being used to control it. The war in Iraq is another issue that Donnelly said is not being managed appropriately. “We are now there, and there is no back door out,” said Donnelly. “We can’t cut and run … We have to stabilize it, and get it under control and when we leave it won’t be soon enough.”