Taking advantage of the momentum created by Jesse Jackson's recent primary victories, Utah supporters kicked off their own campaign Wednesday night on behalf of the surging Democratic presidential candidate.
More than 90 people crowded the Crossroads Urban Center, 347 S. Fourth East, to select a state campaign committee and to consider ways to communicate Jackson's message. Several speakers, including a seven-state campaign coordinator, gave the gathering a Jackson pep talk.Michael Ortega, campaign vice chairman, said Wednesday's racially diverse audience reflects the national trend of wide-based support for Jackson.
"Jackson does not just appeal to blacks," Ortega said. "What is appealing is talking of a program. He is talking about unemployment and what really must happen to solve the problem. He is talking about infrastructure and a people-oriented budget."
The campaign committee, which has dubbed itself Jackson '88 Utah, plans to open an office in Salt Lake City and run other grass-roots offices out of homes in Utah's northern counties.
"We're not big money," Ortega said. The campaign eventually hopes to pick up Sen. Paul Simon's Utah supporters once he makes an expected exit from the presidential race.
Ortega said Utahns should support Jackson because his policies could help strengthen civil rights in the state and help the state meet its housing needs, particularly of the homeless.
In foreign policy, Ortega believes Jackson has made a strong statement for peace, particularly in withdrawing U.S. involvement in Central America.
If Jackson receives the Democratic nomination, he stands a strong chance to win over George Bush, who represents an ineffective Reagan mentality, Ortega said.
"Reaganism needs to be cured," he said. "Jackson is providing a new day. He will be the saving grace for this nation."
Marvin Davis will head the Utah campaign and the Rev. Robert Harris will serve as a vice chairman.