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Election 2004

Filmmaker makes plea to students for Kerry

Michael Moore makes a stop at the Sun Dome, where he asks voters to choose the Democrat.

By KEVIN GRAHAM
Published October 4, 2004

[Times photo: Ken Helle]
Michael Moore and his "Slacker Uprising Tour" were at the Sun Dome, where he spoke to about 2,500 people Sunday morning.

TAMPA - Oscar winner Michael Moore admits he often preaches to the choir when he criticizes President Bush and the Iraq war in his books and films. He says its his job.

"The choir has been asleep," Moore said. "The choir needs a song to sing. I'm here to wake up the choir."

For nearly an hour on Sunday at the University of South Florida Sun Dome, he delivered the gospel according to Moore and begged about 2,500 people to vote for Sen. John Kerry on Nov. 2. To unregistered voters who came up to him for a form, Moore gave a pack of Ramen noodles.

"John Kerry is a brave and courageous man," Moore told reporters after the rally. "I will sleep much safer at night with him in the White House."

Moore's visit to Tampa came as part of his 60-city "Slacker Uprising Tour," which started last week and is intended to mobilize students in 20 battleground states who typically don't vote. The tour is expected to reach 600,000 people, ending on Election Day in Tallahassee. Tonight, Moore makes a stop in Gainesville at the University of Florida.

The Sun Dome crowd welcomed the Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 documentary director with a standing ovation.

With such energy on a Sunday morning, Moore said, "We should all be in church, because that's where we're all going to need to be if we get four more years of George W. Bush."

Joining Moore as a surprise guest Sunday was women's rights activist and author Gloria Steinem. She took the stage and simply thanked Moore for what he was doing.

Moore launched into his message with a recap of the presidential debate that took place in Miami last week. When Kerry received a question, "he would actually answer it clearly and precisely," Moore said. But Bush "showed up to a 90-minute debate with five minutes of material," said Moore.

"How many times did he say, "It takes hard work. It takes hard work. It takes hard work?"'

Moore also poked fun at the president's actions during the debate, saying Bush's demeanor reminded him of a Three Stooges episode.

"How about that moment in the debate when Bush reached for the glass, but there's no water in the glass," Moore said. "And he drinks from it anyway ... still believing the American people will fall for the illusion and the deception. Not anymore, Mr. Bush. Not anymore."

Moore called on the media to portray an unedited version of Bush as he did in Fahrenheit 9/11. In the film, there's a scene where the president is on a golf course and calls "upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you."

Bush follows his appeal by returning to his golf game and saying, "now, watch this drive." Moore said mainstream media refused to show the second part of the clip.

"Don't clean him up in the edit room," Moore said. "I think it's best to show the whole truth."

To 20-year-old Emily Brackett, the truth doesn't lie with Bush or Kerry. It lies within Ralph Nader.

Brackett and 22-year-old Jessica Kochick caught Moore's attention during the rally as they started exiting with a Ralph Nader sign while Moore spoke. The women said a Sun Dome official asked them to leave with their signs, but Moore asked them to stay. He paused his speech to try and persuade them to vote for Kerry, instead.

"Don't vote for Ralph this year," Moore told them. "Just join with us in removing George Bush from the White House this year. Just this once. Just this once, please."

Moore said the stakes are too high for Nader supporters to split the vote like they did in 2000, although he said he appreciates their loyalty to Nader because Nader is a good person.

"Ralph is right on all the issues," Moore said. "To go to the voting booth and vote for Ralph feels good. (But) when you were 14, didn't your parents ever tell you that five minutes of feeling good has lifelong implications?"

"He pushed us further in the direction of Ralph Nader," said Brackett, who works for Nader's Corporate Crime Busters campaign. "We used to have so much respect for (Moore), and now he's buying into the two party system. It just breaks our heart."

[Last modified October 4, 2004, 02:50:31]


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