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Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang visits Mason

November 6, 2019   /   by John Hollis

Eli Kohn was an admitted “Bernie guy,” but the George Mason University freshman figured he had nothing to lose by simply listening to what Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang had to say during his campus rally Monday, Nov. 4, at the Center for the Arts.

The freshman philosophy major from Norfolk, Virginia, was among the near capacity crowd of more than 1,800 mostly young people in attendance and said afterwards that he’d come away solidly in the camp of the “Yang Gang.”

“I had kind of heard about some of the things he had been proposing, especially the $1,000 a month to people [for 12 months],” Kohn said, “and I was more than a little skeptical at first. But, after listening to him explain it, I could totally get behind it. That totally shocked me.”

Yang said afterward that he was impressed with the enthusiasm awaiting him in his first visit to Mason. He’d been told to expect as much from Andrew Sanchez, his traveling press secretary and a 2007 Mason graduate.

“This was a full house in Northern Virginia on a weekday,” Yang said.

A 44-year-old entrepreneur, lawyer and philanthropist with no previous political experience, Yang’s populist message has resonated with young people in particular. His signature policy is a call for a “Freedom Dividend,” a universal income that would offer $1,000 per month for a year to help Americans endure challenges from job losses that result from increased automation.

Yang, a self-proclaimed “numbers guy” whose campaign raised $10 million last quarter, drew a few added cheers from a supportive audience when he mentioned that he was a second-generation college student when he attended Brown University as an undergraduate. His concern about the rising cost of a college education resonated with the audience, as did his plan to put people first instead of banks and corporations.

It was just the kind of message that Grace Walker had expected to hear. The freshman forensic science major from Stafford, Virginia, had long been a Yang supporter and said seeing him in person only reinforced her thinking.

“I firmly believe he’s the most intelligent candidate in the race,” she said.