U. Michigan College Dems Unite For Nominee

This story was written by Jake Holmes, Michigan Daily
After Sen. Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign last week and endorsed her opponent, when Sen. Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination, campus political groups are taking similar action.

Despite the contentious race between Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nomination, the University of Michigan's chapters of Students for Obama and Students for Hillary will merge with the College Democrats on campus.

In a concession speech Saturday, Clinton called on her supporters to work as hard to elect Obama as they had for her primary campaign. Students for Hillary chair and LSA junior Kelly Bernero said she, along with the majority of her group, will campaign for Obama.

"Students for Hillary was a subgroup of College Dems and was established on the premise it would dissolve once the Democratic nominee was chosen," Bernero said.

The same goes for Students for Obama. LSA junior Tom Duvall, chair of the group, said that while his group will dissolve, its role won't. Duvall said members of his group will all work as part of College Democrats this fall.

While some disgruntled Clinton backers have started sporting "NObama" T-shirts and swearing to vote for presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, campus politicos are mostly playing nice.

LSA junior Nathaniel Eli Coats Styer, chair of the University's chapter of College Democrats, said that come fall, he expects that Democrats on campus will set aside their differences and work toward electing a Democrat in the fall.

"There's a little bit of chiding, but there's no animosity," Styer said. "I think everyone's looking forward to seeing a Democrat in office."

In fact, members of Students for Hillary and Students for Obama watched the primary results come in together on Super Tuesday in February and worked side-by-side with the College Democrats in other efforts.

Styer said that, ultimately, all the Democratic candidates stand on similar platforms. When Sen. Joe Biden and former Sen. John Edwards were knocked out of the race, the members of Students for Biden and Students for Edwards joined College Democrats because they hoped to elect anyone other than Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, Styer said.

But LSA junior Brady Smith, chair of the University's chapter of College Republicans, isn't convinced that supporters of Obama and Clinton will be able to put aside their differences.

Although he said he wasn't sure what the climate was like on campus, Smith said the drawn-out primary season has taken a toll on unity in the Democratic party.

Smith said that despite a rough primary fight between McCain and former Republican candidate Mitt Romney, members of Students for Romney have campaigned door-to-door for McCain with the College Republicans.

"I don't think there is that congeniality on the Dems' side," Smith said. "I think it's much more bitter."

By having a nominee four months before the Democratic party, Smith said Republicans, including those at the University, had a strategic advantage over the Democrats.

"We were the first ones to get the word out there," Smith said. "We've had a couple months on the Democrats in terms of getting people excited about our candidate."

- Managing News Editor Julie Rowe contributed to this report.
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