Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro counted down the four days until next Tuesday’s election as she spoke of the importance of bringing to Washington, D.C. a more socially responsible and less divisive administration.

DeLauro, running for her ninth term representing a district that includes New Haven, spoke Thursday evening at her campaign headquarters on Audubon Street with students from Yale, the Quinnipiac School of Law, the Hopkins School and other local schools. Emphasizing the need for an increased sense of responsibility in the federal government, DeLauro, who focused her comments on the national election, urged students to become involved in their government by voting and taking an interest in the issues.

“I believe we’re going to win next Tuesday, and the work you’re doing is helping that effort,” she said. “The key to the election is going to be young people.”

DeLauro said she was concerned by the Bush Administration’s cuts in funding for Pell Grants and Perkins Loans, both designed to help low-income students pay for higher education.

“Something has gone dreadfully wrong in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “A sense of shared responsibility — that is what is missing. I don’t think that [the current administration] has the view that government has that moral responsibility in people’s lives.”

Locally, DeLauro is running against Republican Richter Elser, whom she defeated in the 2002 midterm elections. She and her staff said they were very optimistic about DeLauro’s re-election.

“It’s going to be a good day,” Chuck Swirsky, DeLauro’s campaign manager, said.

DeLauro said she will focus next term on creating jobs, increasing the availability and quality of health care and making available more funding for education.

Andrew Dowe ’08, from Tampa, Fla., said he knew very little about the local races but enjoyed DeLauro’s frankness.

“I’m really interested in politics, so I thought it would be interesting to meet a congresswoman, even though she’s not my representative,” Dowe said. “She was just speaking her mind, and it was nice to hear someone being honest.”

Dowe left the meeting with a handful of DeLauro’s campaign stickers and a “Kerry/Edwards” sign, which he intends to hang in his window.

Aaron Margolis ’06, the local political coordinator for the Yale College Democrats, helped organize the meeting and said he is thrilled with the interest Yale students have shown in local elections.

“Rosa DeLauro’s vote [in Congress] affects every American equally, and I think there’s been a lot of interest in these congressional races because the truth of the matter is — we need to take back Congress,” Margolis said.

Two of the country’s 10 closet congressional races are “literally half an hour away,” said Margolis, who said he has taken a few carloads of students to work at a phone bank and campaign in those nearby Connecticut districts.

“I’m glad that there are two close congressional races right next door to our district,” he said. “It’s something that we can work on and make a difference at the national level without going to Pennsylvania or New Hampshire.”

DeLauro’s campaign is hosting a phone bank at her campaign headquarters all weekend and is holding a gathering on election night at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven.

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