We shall prevail’

By and

Sen. Bob Bennett jokingly called the gathering a “preliminary lunch for Dan Jones’ funeral.”

Others assumed it was a retirement bash for the pollster and professor who has taught civics courses at Utah universities for nearly 50 years.

But Dan Jones told a crowd of politicians, students and friends who gathered Friday to honor his career that he doesn’t plan to step down anytime soon.

“A lot of you thought this was my retirement program — no, it’s not,” Jones said, inciting laughter and applause from the audience.

The luncheon was held to raise money for the new Dan E. Jones Future Leaders Scholarship, which will be given to 10 students each year. The Hinckley Institute of Politics has already raised more than $100,000 for the scholarship.

Jones was also honored as the institute’s Spring 2008 Hinckley Fellow. Additionally, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. declared April 4, 2008, “Dan Jones Day.”

Prominent politicians from around the state packed a banquet room in Rice-Eccles Stadium to pay tribute to Jones’ career.

“Dan, I can tell there are more egos represented in this room than at any other time since the Legislature convened,” Huntsman said.

Utah Senators Bennett and Orrin Hatch also spoke, praising Jones for his work.

“I think Dan Jones is the best pollster in the country,” said Hatch, who has hired Jones’ polling firm, Dan Jones and Associates, to conduct polls for many of his re-election campaigns. “He has never been wrong in 30 years.”

The three also poked fun at Jones’ colorful personality and reputation in political circles.

“Dan seems to be everywhere these days. In fact, when I started telling people that I was supporting for president a grumpy old man with little television appeal?they thought Dan was running for president,” said Huntsman, who has endorsed John McCain for president.

When Jones took the stage, he outlined many of the challenges facing democracy in the United States. His passionate speech drew a standing ovation from the audience.

“I predict democracy will not only survive,” he said. “It will prevail.”

Jones spoke to students at Hinckley Institute earlier in the day when he talked about the importance of the November presidential election.

“I believe the year 2008 is the most important election we will have had since (1960),” Jones said. “As it is now, Barack Obama would give John McCain a tough battle nationally and in Utah — Hillary Clinton would not.”

Jones used the Vietnam and Iraq wars to compare the 2008 and 1968 presidential elections.

“I see so much similar between 1968 and 2008…with a war that tore the nation apart,” Jones said. “And today, I feel like we are somewhat torn apart.”

[email protected]

Lennie Mahler

U professor and public opinion pollster, Dan Jones, shakes hands after a luncheon where Governor John M. Huntsman Jr. declared April 4th Dan Jones Day.