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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Kerry expected to speak at UF about national security, views on war

Though he canceled his visit to UF in the spring, Sen. John Kerry will speak at the University Auditorium on Sept. 17 at noon.

Steven Blank, chairman of Accent, said Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, would speak for free because acting senators cannot be paid for speeches.

Accent is a Student Government organization that brings guest speakers to UF.

Free tickets will be available at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the University Box Office on a first-come, first-serve basis Monday, Blank said.

Any unclaimed tickets will be available the day of the speech.

Blank said tickets from the canceled spring speech are no longer valid.

He said he expects the auditorium to be filled to capacity, which is about 900 people.

Blank said Kerry would probably speak about national security, his views on the war in Iraq and current government policies.

After his speech, Kerry will take questions from the audience.

Kerry has served as a Massachusetts senator for 22 years.

He ran in the 2004 presidential election on the Democratic ticket against President George W. Bush.

"We're definitely open to having some prominent Republicans speak as well, but there's no one specific on our radar," Blank said.

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He said he wasn't worried that Accent, which is billed as the largest student-run speaker's bureau in the nation, would appear biased.

Most people know the organization has a long history of nonpartisanship, he said.

In the past, Accent has brought in well-known political figures from other parties, he said, such as Ann Coulter, a conservative author, and Pat Buchanan, a Reform Party candidate in the 2000 presidential election.

Blank also said Kerry's visit has nothing to do with recent controversy over the primary election debates in Florida.

Last month, the Democratic National Committee voted to remove all the presidential convention delegates from Florida's Democratic Party unless the state changes its primary election from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5.

"He was planning on coming anyway," Blank said about Kerry. "It might even help us get a Republican."

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