Biden pursues youth vote at ECU

Democratic vice presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Monday rolled into a key territory his party is counting on to help win the White House: a college campus.

Biden addressed an East Carolina University crowd in which students appeared to be a minority, but the visit reflected how much his running mate, Sen. Barack Obama, is counting on the youth vote. Democrats hope a wave of new, energized voters will help propel them to widespread victories on Election Day.

The ECU crowd of about 400 didn't display a surge of support, but students said the campus was dotted with signals that this year is different.

Mary Morgan Mills, a freshman elementary education major from Charlotte, said the Obama campaign routinely sets up a table for voter registration in the commons area where students eat lunch.

“They're always handing out fliers,” Mills said. “I've seen a (John) McCain table once.”

Librarian Rita Khazanie, 55, said students seem more attentive and enthusiastic than in years past.

“Everybody seems to know more about the issues,” Khazanie said. “It's not just, ‘I'm going to vote for somebody.' It's, ‘Here's why.'”

Biden, a U.S. senator from Delaware, gave a 25-minute speech, part of which mocked Republican efforts to distance McCain, the Arizona senator and Republican presidential nominee, from President Bush.

“I know Halloween's coming,” Biden said, “but John McCain, dressed as an agent of change – that costume doesn't fit.”