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Students campaign for today's primaries

By Miranda Neubauer
On February 5, 2008

While most students were sleeping last Saturday morning, Brandeis Students for McCain stood at the intersection of South and Weston Streets in Waltham, holding up campaign signs. The McCain supporters were some of many Brandeis students who are actively involved in the presidential campaign during the lead-up to today's primaries.The polling location, Bank School on the corner of South and Vernon Streets, will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. Students can take the BranVan to vote starting at 4 p.m., according to a campuswide e-mail sent by Student Union President Shreeya Sinha '09 yesterday. Brandeis is part of Ward 7 District 1, which has 2766 registered voters, according to Eileen Eaton in the Waltham County Clerk's office.

Twenty-two states are holding primaries and two are holding caucuses today that determine which candidate is allocated the most state delegates and thus who will receive the party's nomination.

Both fields have narrowed down to two major Democratic front-runners. Former first lady and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton placed first in four states, winning 232 delegates according to, while Illinois Sen Barack Obama placed first in two states, winning 158 delegates. Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain has won three states and 97 delegates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has four states and 92 delegates and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has 29 delegates after winning the Iowa caucus.

While Super Tuesday, usually in February or March, has always been the day in which the largest number of primary elections takes place, this election cycle is unique because many states voted to shift their primaries to earlier than usual dates in the hopes of playing a greater role in the campaigns at a time when the winner is not yet clear. These moves have faced criticism, with the Democratic and Republican National Committees stripping some states of some or all of their delegates to penalize them for holding elections before Feb. 5.

For many students, this year's Democratic primaries, in which a black and a female candidate compete for the presidential nomination, are especially exciting.

Melissa Howard '09 from New York City is a Clinton supporter, but she said many of her family members would welcome the victory of either candidate. "It will be the first time a black man is in the presidency or the first time a woman is in the presidency," Howard said.

First-time voter Miriam Ganem-Rosen '10, an American who has lived in France, intends to vote for Clinton today in Waltham. "I think while Obama has good rhetoric," she said. "Clinton has the most realistic expectations."

"And a woman as president, yes!" her friend Rachel Sawicki '10 from Delaware agreed.

Ganem-Rosen said that living in France has influenced her decision. "As a European, I see that America's image in France has really been hurt by the Bush presidency, and I really want to fix that because I believe the United States can be a world leader," she said.

Obama supporters are impressed with the candidate's position on topics such as health care and immigration policy.

Zachary Handler '09 voted absentee from Missouri for Obama. "I believe he is the most electable Democrat." Handler said health care is an important issue for him, especially with his graduation approaching. As a theater major planning to work in theater directly after college, "I'm not going to have a job, most likely, that will provide health care for me because I won't be part of the union yet," he said.

Obama supporter Adriel Orozco '10, who is from New Mexico, said that Obama isn't very popular there. While he is voting absentee, he said he had encouraged his family to go to the caucuses. Immigration is an important issue to him, Orozco said. He noted that both Democratic candidates voted for a southern border fence, which he opposed. "But I think Obama would be able to sway more opinions in the Senate than Clinton would."

Steven Sasmor '10 of New York City favors Obama in spite of his prediction that Clinton will win the primaries in New York State.

"[Obama] inspires confidence, hope, optimism. . I think it would be nice to feel good about our country again," Sasmor said. "But even though I'm hoping Obama will win, probably New York will go toward Hillary."

Adam Hughes '11 voted for Democrat John Edwards in the Connecticut primary. Now that Edwards has dropped out of the race, Hughes feels Obama is the second strongest presidential candidate.

"I feel that [Edwards] really took a strong position on poverty issues," Hughes said. "Obviously I'm kind of disappointed. . Right now, I think I prefer Obama over Clinton."

Other students value presidential candidates' political experience over theoretical stances on national issues.

Zach Margulies '10 voted absentee for McCain in the California Republican primary. "He is one of the few who has national experience, unlike Clinton or Romney or especially Obama," he said. "He has foreign policy experience and military experience, . and he is the only really honest candidate." He said he is particularly concerned about the situation in Iraq. "The Democrats all want to withdraw, and that would be disastrous for Iraq and the U.S.," he said." As a California voter, he said, "It's surprising that we'll actually be important this time around because usually California doesn't matter."

As the deadline to vote in the primaries draws near, some students are still deliberating over which candidate most deserves their support.

Shaina Gilbert '11 intends to vote tomorrow in Massachusetts, but said she did not yet know which Democratic candidate she would support. "Personally for me, I think my voice counts more as a Democrat during the preliminaries . because we're a blue state.

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