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Widespread Misconceptions About Candidates On U. Miami Campus

This story was written by Mark Daniels, The Miami Hurricane


I like to talk about the economy but a lot of my friends care more about [Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack] Obama and Bill Ayers or [Republican presidential candidate Sen. John] McCain being old than taxes, said Cameron Harati, a University of Miami sophomore, who discusses politics with friendsbut is not confident that their enthusiasm for the candidates is substantive.

Robert Murstein, a sophomore, said that students are enthusiastic about the candidates but their support stems from superficial factors such as image.

Kids are talking more about the election this year because of how cool Obama is, or the fact that McCain was a prisoner of war. People are getting e-mails and texts from the campaigns or chain letters [thatinclude lies], Murstein said.

Some students are generally confused about the candidates platforms.

When asked if they believe McCain is for stem-cell research, many students believehe is not. However, McCain has been a strong advocate of stem-cell research throughout the election.

Michael Weiss,a 26-year-old doctoral student and member of the UM College Democrats,believes many students are misinformed.

Students should be discussing policies and the economy, not distractions. But even when people talk about their proposals, they do not have their facts straight, Weiss said.

Other students believe the candidatesoverallcharacteris equal to the policies they claim to support.

Im looking for someone who walks the walk, said law studentHarout Samra, the state chairman of the Florida Federation of College Republicans.Samra believes issues of personal judgment are relevantto thiselection and views McCain as the more trustworthy candidate because of his military service and years of experience as a statesman.

Many students agree that relationships and issues of judgment are fair game; when asked about political conversations they have with friends, most students say their discussions focus more on the candidates traits andcharacteristics than their policies.

Sophomore Brad Weisberg, a member of the UMCollege Democrats, agrees that questions of judgment are important.

The person elected is going to be in charge of running this country and we should understand the type of people that influence them, he said. Weisberg believes that lobbyists usually influence campaign policy more than personal relationships and that both candidates are backed by special interests

Rumors are so significant this election thatObama has set up a Web sitethat specifically attempts to refuteundesirable statements about his campaign and personal life.The Web site,fightthesmears.com, addresses issuessuch asObamas connection to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the rumor about Michelle Obama using derogatory termssuch as whitey.

Many students are angered by the attacks on their candidates of choice. Jean Baudry, a freshman, said the attacks on Obama have been lies.

Could the lack of factual political information impair them from making a well-informed decision on election day?

John Twichell, a professor of comparative politics, believes students are able to sift through the rumors and evaluate the issues to make an informed choice, regardless of numerous students at the university voicing their concerns aboutthe student body beingpolitically misinformed.

Students are well informed about the issues that matter foreign policy and broader economic and domestic policies, Twichell said.