WASHINGTON – Event organizers at Washington State University’s Vancouver campus were puzzled last week when only 100 people bought advance tickets for former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s speech on national security and civil liberties.
After all, last year’s speaker, newly named Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, sold out the 1,100 seats before the event.
The head of the WSU Vancouver College Republicans said it may be that Ashcroft, the author of the controversial USA Patriot Act, “is not an exciting character for a lot of people.”
He must be exciting to someone. He received a $27,000 speaker’s fee to address the school’s fourth annual Public Affairs Distinguished Lecture series, according to Carolyn Long, head of the school’s public affairs program.
And that was substantially less than his usual $60,000 fee. With travel and other costs for receptions and dinners, the tab came to about $36,000.
Dean’s fee, she said, was only $17,000.”We did an all-out blitz” to stir interest among Republicans and others, Long said. In the end, about 700 people showed up. Of those, 225 paid the full $10. Several rows in the back were roped off to make the room appear smaller.
Protesters were outside and one inside as Ashcroft gave an address described by news accounts as an “interesting” speech.