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Saturday, Dec. 9
The Indiana Daily Student


Student workers pivotal in Gore campaign

Volunteers plan events, revel in political experiences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thick gray clouds blanketed the sky Monday afternoon over Gore headquarters, and a gusty wind rustled what leaves remained on the branches. Inside, a mob of Gore volunteers generated an urgent buzz of conversation.\n"Are you going to be able to vote in the election tomorrow?" asked one phone bank worker at the Seniors for Gore table. "Are you going to be healthy enough to get out and vote?"\nAt the center of the frenzy was a young woman in a long-sleeved gray T-shirt and jeans. One moment she stood over the shoulder of another volunteer who was just beginning her shift. The next moment, she jumped up to greet a new group of workers -- distant cousins of Joe Lieberman -- who arrived to help out.\nOne need not speak directly with this pointing, waving, always-in-motion woman to understand she's one of the designated go-to people here.\nAnd she's 19.\nMeet Bianca Ennix, Vice-President Al Gore's Tennessee volunteer coordinator. The George Washington University sophomore and political science major has worked at Gore headquarters in Nashville since August.\nAs Tennessee coordinator, she directs the 200-plus individuals on the state's volunteer list, monitoring who makes phone calls and sends e-mails. She goes door to door encouraging residents to vote for Gore.\nDuring the summer, Ennix worked as a Gore press corps volunteer. The national volunteer coordinator was so impressed with her enthusiasm and maturity that she offered Ennix the Tennessee coordinator position, she said.\nFor her efforts at headquarters and at Middle Tennessee State University, where she's enrolled in a few classes this semester, Ennix receives a salary and 15 George Washington University credit hours. But more importantly, Ennix noted, she's receiving the proverbial experience of a lifetime.\n"The practical experience, that's what's going to get you ahead (in the work force)," she said. "This is important training to be a leader."\nAnd lead she does. Just then, a tall, neatly-dressed middle-aged man entered the room. "Hey Bernard!" Ennix called out with friendly recognition. "Go back there ... I don't want you going out in the rain in a suit and tie like that."\nBernard protested that he didn't mind going out door to door, and with a word of thanks from Ennix, off he went.\nEnnix said her faith in God has inspired her to work the long hours required of a state coordinator. The decision to accept the position was influenced by a spiritual calling she felt, Ennix said.\n"I really think God wants me to be a leader."\nEnnix said she supports Gore and other Democrats because she believes they are more committed to equal opportunities for all. Ennix mentioned voting for affirmative action and anti-unemployment measures as evidence of the Democratic Party's commitment. She contrasted this with her perception of some Republicans' attitudes.\n"With Bush, it's like every man for himself," Ennix said. "The top 1 percent, why should they help you? That's basically the deal."\nAfter all is said and done Nov. 9, Ennix will return to being "just" a student. She said she will get some needed rest immediately following the elections, but soon she'll be back to work on two term papers for her Middle Tennessee and George Washington University classes.\nEnnix said she hopes to gain entry into GWU's political communications program, which selects fewer than 35 applicants per year. And she said she definitely wants to stay involved in politics. In addition to the great time she is having at headquarters, Ennix said she's met a lot of great people she doesn't want to leave. \nAn older woman approached Ennix to tell her about a rumor she had heard that Gore would win Michigan.\n"We're going to take this thing, we're going to win it," Ennix said. \nThe two posed for a quick photo in front of a Gore-Lieberman banner before the woman left to make get-out-the-vote phone calls.\nTuesday night, another group of Gore backers echoed support for their leader over the sound of the falling rain at the Gore rally in Nashville. Among them was one of Ennix's fellow Middle Tennessee State students, Martha Simpson. Simpson took her last semester off from school to work on Democrat Jeff Clark's campaign for Tennessee Senate. "Each person has to make their own choices, and this was my choice," Simpson said.\nShe expressed confidence in Gore's chances. "It is a very close race, but I think he can take it," she said. \nPolitical participation by young people seemed quite popular in Tennessee on Election Day, as many of the event volunteers were students. \nGeorge Mouhlas, a Vanderbilt student who was working the event with Simpson, said he wanted to participate in the elections somehow because there are issues important to him, such as education, that he wants to have a role in.\nEnnix echoed the same commitment and reflected on her willingness as a new voter to involve herself in the political process.\n"All the leaders of today, they're going to have to retire someday, and they're going to have to die someday ... We have to have more young people involved now," she said.

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