Governors Give Graduates Sentimental Speeches
By Eric Kelderman, Staff Writer
Governors put aside politics, mostly, and reached out to college graduates with personal messages during the commencement season.
"Today, each of you -- no matter your age or where you are in your career-- enters a new phase of your journey ... a journey that will take you places you cannot yet imagine," Louisiana's Kathleen Blanco (D) told graduates at Southern University at Baton Rouge.
Blanco reflected on her humble aspirations when she graduated from college in 1964 - her ambitions then were to be a wife and mother, she said. But after realizing those goals, she went on to become Louisiana's first woman governor.
Twenty-six of the nation's 50 governors spoke at commencement ceremonies this year, reminiscing about their own college experiences, relaying messages of faith and inspiration and urging graduates not to forget where they came from.
Some even tried their hand at a little humor."When I grew up, there were three television channels, and they were in black and white. ... A mouse was a furry little animal and a blackberry was just a piece of fruit. And you never had to worry about what someone might find if they 'Googled' you," Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) told graduates at Washington State University in Pullman.
Iowa's Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) read a children's book, "Forty-Ninth Magician," about a king who learns to enjoy the magic of everyday life and urged the Des Moines Area Community College graduates to look for simple joys.
Montana's Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) told graduates of Montana State University to "be great ambassadors" for the Big Sky state. "Montanans have a reputation of having a very strong work ethic -- do your best to demonstrate this to everyone you meet," he said. "Second, and perhaps most importantly, come back home!"
But Utah's Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) was perhaps the frankest commencement speaker. "I am under no illusions that you will remember anything I say," he told the audience at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.
"Indeed, I have been told that commencement speakers bear certain parallels to the corpse at a viewing," Huntsman said. "You are needed for the ceremony, but no one expects much from you."
Blanco, Gov. Ed Rendell (D) of Pennsylvania and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III (D) got the most commencement work this year, each speaking at three college graduations. Democrats bested Republicans at least in terms of speaking invitations. Fifteen Democrats were out on the commencement circuit as opposed to 11 Republicans. Nationally, the GOP holds 28 governorships to 22 Democrats.