The Race for the White House: College’s students pick their candidate

On Nov. 2, the next president of the United States, either the incumbent George W. Bush or his opponent, Sen. John Kerry, will be chosen. Across the country, as well as the state and even at the College, the campaigns have kicked into high gear.

Kevin Kelly, sophomore English major, is one of the College’s students getting involved as a member of the Cinnaminson Republican Committee, as an intern for Sen. Pete Inverso and as a volunteer at the Republican National Convention.

According to Kelly, he has helped to distribute campaign material, post lawn signs and knock on doors pushing for the president’s reelection. “The most important thing we’re doing … is getting our citizens … to the polls,” he said.

Kelly promoted Bush as a good choice for young voters on the basis of his education policies. “President Bush has increased educational funding by over 60 percent since he entered office,” he said.

Jonathan Borst, sophomore political science major, said that he is planning on voting for Bush on Election Day.

“I feel like Bush is more committed to winning the peace in Iraq,” he said, adding, “Kerry doesn’t seem to have a firm position on the war. Also, Bush seems to be more realistic when it comes to dealing with foreign nations and relying on their support (or lack thereof).”

Dan Cuellar, chairperson of the College Republicans, shared his views on the Iraq conflict as well. “Resolving the situation in Iraq is going to take long-term commitment that will require us to ensure that the current Iraq has enough of a security force to stabilize the country,” he said.

Marge Caldwell-Wilson is the Field Director for the Kerry/John Edwards presidential campaign in Mercer County. Volunteers are given tasks such as canvassing districts, making calls from their cell phones, helping with mailings and delivering signs. As part of the campaign, Caldwell-Wilson has met with the student Democratic organizations at Princeton and Rider Universities.

She said Kerry’s platforms included “enhancing the well being of our children and future generations by providing health coverage to the uninsured, protecting the environment and investing in education and strengthening the international alliances we need to defeat the terrorists,” among other things.

“With Kerry as president, I am confident that he can get our economy back on the right track and that he will protect Social Security by putting more people back to work,” she said.

She also said that Kerry would be better for young voters.

“I believe that not only are students’ abilities to afford an education at risk, but further down the road their children’s ability to afford an education is also at risk with the looming budget deficit and federal cuts in programs.”

Matthew Civiletti, sophomore biomedical engineering major, said he is voting for Kerry. He listed a number of reasons for his choice, starting domestically, citing Bush’s questionable environmental policies.

“Kerry wants to invest more in hydrogen fuel cells and hybrid vehicles,” he said.

On the war in Iraq, Civiletti said, “I think that Bush believes in his ideas, but I see a lot of parallels between mistakes we made in Vietnam and mistakes we’re making in Iraq, for example, being blinded by ideology. Kerry takes a more practical, realistic approach; he seems to be able to understand that just because you believe something it doesn’t mean it’s correct.”

“Although some of Kerry’s positions have been inconsistent (although not all), I would trust his judgment much more than Bush’s in the art of risk-taking,” he added.

There still are swing voters, however, even at the College. Jonathan Cherng, a sophomore math and statistics major said, “Right now I’m still considering myself a swing voter, or, undecided because I don’t feel that any of the candidates are qualified or responsible enough to lead our country and inherit such an enormous role.”

“I was against the actions of Bush turning his back against … North Korea, because it turns out they are the ones who obviously have the WMDs,” Cherng added.

“As for Kerry,” Cherng said, “I like what he says he’ll do with domestic policy overall. I feel like he will do a better job handling the economy and environmental issues than Bush. However, I feel by the same token that he doesn’t seem as strong in his intents to fighting terrorism, he seems more cautious and a little more scared to fight the war on terrorism.”

When asked what he thinks young people should focus on, he said, “I would watch how the war progresses, to see if a draft is actually necessary. I really can’t say if I’m for a draft, because it depends on what the resolution in Iraq will be. Is there going to be an ending? If it’s going to be the next Vietnam then I’m going to be against it.”

Because he is a swing voter, Cherng has been able to look both sides of the debate objectively, seeing the sometimes blind faith of supporters of either candidate. “It bothers me because people are informed, they know about the issues – especially in this election. This is simply a battle of two different beliefs.”