In the Spotlight

News & Features
End of the Honeymoon?
By Martin Kaste
February 10, 1999
Click for audio RealAudio 3.0 28.8

An encounter between Governor Ventura and a group of college students turned into a shouting match at the state capitol today.

Governor Ventura addresses students on the Capitol steps.

Photo: Bob Collins

VENTURA HAS GENERALLY HAD GOOD EXPERIENCES talking to students. During the campaign, college students cheered him at campus rallies, even when he made his now-famous comment that people who are smart enough to go to college should be smart enough to find a way to pay for it.

But this time around, his usual stump speech on self-reliance got a chilly reception. The heckling started almost as soon as he waded into the crowd of about 200 students gathered on the capitol steps. The mood really turned sour when one student asked him what he planned to do for single parent students. He replied by asking her why she was a single parent in the first place?
Crowd: No way! No way!
And the mood got even worse when the Governor got into a sarcastic exchange with Robin Melin of the Minnesota State College Student Association, after she asked him to walk in her shoes for a day.

State college students demand more student aid at Capitol rally.

Photo: Bob Collins

VENTURA: Oh, and I've done nothing! I've just been depending on government assistance all my life! I'm not going to bother with this anymore.
The students were most vocal about getting a big increase in state aid for child care; something Ventura does not favor. But Ventura's budget does increase state aid for higher education by $250 million. Despite this fact, the students forced the Governor to retreat into the Capitol by shouting him down.
Crowd: Lower tuition is our mission! Lower tuition is our mission!
Governor's Budget Page
Education wins in Ventura budget
But not all the students in the crowd were chanting. After the encounter, a handful of them stopped by the Governor's office and left written apologies for the way the encounter had gone. One student from Riverland Community College in Austin tried to mend fences with an offer of a free manicure.

Martin Kaste covers the Capitol for Minnesota Public Radio. Reach him at