U. Arizona Students Talk Politics Prior To Primaries

This story was written by Cody Calamaio, Arizona Daily Wildcat
As the country buzzes with political talk about the narrowing race for the White House, the Wildcat explored University of Arizona students' opinions, passions, apathies and concerns.

Arizona holds its state primary election Tuesday. The results will help determine which presidential candidates will be chosen to lead their parties as November's general election approaches.

Students show support for a range of candidates. Undeclared freshman Beverly Valdez registered to vote as a Democrat recently and said she's currently "stuck" on what candidate she wants.

"Barack Obama is everywhere. He's hyped up everywhere," Valdez said, who said she plans on researching candidates before the primary to see if their "views coincide" with hers.

Undeclared freshman Diana Centeno is currently supporting Hillary Clinton because of her economic plans and the strength of the past Clinton administration.

"She's the first female that has a possibility to get elected president," she said. "I think she'll surpass her criticism. I don't think gender is an issue."

Political science sophomore Devin Birtciel said he is supporting John McCain, while journalism sophomore Kevin O'Brien was in Rudy Giuliani's corner before the former New York mayor dropped out of the race Wednesday.

O'Brien thought it was "such a bad campaign strategy" for Giuliani to focus his campaign efforts on Tuesday's Florida primary and neglect previous primaries in other states.

Adiv Johnson, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, said he's currently supporting Obama because he's the lesser evil than Clinton among Democrats.

"The fact that he's new, he could bring about some new changes," Johnson said. "Our Washington needs a fresh face."

Johnson was rooting for more liberal candidates, but they have dropped out of the race.

Pre-business freshman Jolene Walton is also voting for Obama.

"I see it as a chance for a black president to be in that kind of a position," she said.

Undeclared freshman Eric O'Donnell said he doesn't have very much trust in political leaders right now.

"Then again, that could change in the upcoming year," he said.

UA students are interested a variety of national issues - from the economy and foreign policy to border patrol, health care and budget cuts for education. The two most popular issues are the war in Iraq and the economy.

"I want the war to stop. Tons of Americans are dying," Johnson said. "I feel if Obama was put in position to control the war I think it would stop.

"Economically, I don't really care what happens, but socially I'm very passionate about abortion, gay marriage, that sort of thing".

O'Donnell said he's interested in changing the economy and getting out of debt, but he's not for or against the war.

The one thing he's sure on is that he wanted a change from the past few years.

Some students have taken their political passions one step further by volunteering and joining political organizations.

Birtciel and O'Brien are both members of the UA College Republicans.

"I try to keep up on the issues so should I get into a debate, I know what I'm talking about," O'Brien said.

He said he got involved because "it's fun" and he wanted to show he cares "about the country."

"I helped a little with the City Council elections last semester," Birtciel said.

Johnson joined the UA Young Democrats last week and is excited to be involved.

Typically, his participation stays on the local level, through volunteering for candidates.

"I've voted in every local election, and occasionally I go down to thelocal Democrat headquarters and help them out," he said.

All of the students polled agreed that they didn't think enough students and young people were involved in politics.

O'Brien, who recently moved to Tucson, is a fanatic of national politics and hopes to get more in tune with the local scene.

"I've talked to a lot of people who, aside from Hillary Clinton, can't name anyone on either side," O'Brien said. "It'd be nice to see more people involved in the earlier parts of the process."

Of young voters, Johnson thought that "overall, they're pretty apathetic."

"Some friends are like, 'Oh, whatever,' and don't feel the need to get involved while voting," Walton said.

Business sophomore Nevin Bahadirli is such a student. He is not registered to vote, but said he has considered it.

"I'm kind of uninvolved," he said.

Business sophomore Greg Rossino is also not very involved in politics. While he pays attention to some aspects, he doesn't do any research on candidates.

"It's pretty complicated," Rossino said.

O'Donnell, who is also not registered to vote, said he's aware of where to get information on political platforms, but "a lot of people such as myself are too lazy to go use the resources."

Valdez said she hasn't seen that much political activity on campus, besides clubs on the UA Mall.

Centeno pondered why young people aren't more interested.

"Maybe it's age, and you don't think the issues affect you," she said. "I think they affect everyday life and the people around you."

All students interviewed said the primary was important.

"It's when you pick your candidate," Birtciel said.

So far this election season, members of the College Republicans and Young Democrats have been broadly supporting all candidates in their respective parties.

Both clubs have pledged to be more active once they each have one candidate to support.

O'Brien called the primary "all part of the process. You take away one step, and it all goes to hell."

"Obviously, its extremely important as it narrows down," Johnson said. "(The primary is) definitely a big deal."

Walton registered to vote in high school as a Democrat and is voting by mail-in ballot for tomorrow's primary.

"Most of my friends are voting in the primary," she said.

Valdez said she is nervous and excited to vote for the first time.

"I'm really excited to see how the country is going to change and how my life will change," she said.
© 2008 Arizona Daily Wildcat via U-WIRE

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