Philadelphia Becomes Focal Point Of Presidential Race

This story was written by Colin Kavanaugh, Daily Pennsylvanian
The political circus is finally here.

For the next four weeks, Pennsylvanians will find out what it's like to be at the center of the political universe as candidates prepare for the state's April 22 primary.

During the week before spring break, Chelsea Clinton campaigned at the University of Pennsylvania's campus at Wynn Commons for her mother, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who toured the state last week, making a stop at Temple University.

Also over break, Michelle Obama, wife of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, campaigned at Villanova University. Tuesday, Barack Obama will give a "major speech on race" at the National Constitution Center downtown, according to a press release. Hillary Clinton will also speak downtown Tuesday at City Hall.

According to recent polls, Clinton holds a double-digit lead over Obama in the state. But with four weeks of uninterrupted campaigning, both candidates will have the opportunity to change the dynamic of the race.

"[The candidates] will try to be everywhere because they have the time to be everywhere with enough money to be everywhere," said Randall Miller, a St. Joseph's University history professor and political analyst.

According to Miller, the Pennsylvania campaign will be focused around Philadelphia's "voter-rich" population, but candidates will not shy away from visiting other parts of the state.

Several Clinton events in Pennsylvania last week were focused on the Scranton area in the northeast, where she spent time as a child. The area also houses a strong white, working-class community that has been favorable to her in other states.

Miller said the Philadelphia region will be Obama's primary focus due to the large black and student community in the city and a strong young-professional and college-educated population in the suburbs.

And while these group allegiances appear to change little from state to state, it "doesn't mean they won't be going after the other's voters," Miller said.In addition to official campaign events, Penn political groups are trying to register voters as quickly as possible before the March 24 deadline.

The Penn Democrats endorsed Obama just before spring break began. Now, the group plans to focus on voter registration and conversion, as Independents are not allowed to vote in the state's Republican and Democratic primaries.

After March 24, however, the Penn Dems will turn to "voter education" and help promote Obama in the area, said College sophomore Mukul Sharma, the group's vice president.

Sharma also said the group plans on campaigning in Bucks County, though a final decision has not yet been made.

Penn for Hillary spokeswoman Julie Siegel, a College junior, said they will be registering voters, and will go "door-to-door" for Clinton over the next month.

Despite the Penn Dems' Obama endorsement, Siegel said Penn for Hillary will "make sure students know we're on campus, and that there's a large group [at Penn] who want to vote for Hillary."

Arizona Sen. John McCain has already garnered enough delegates to be the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, though he did campaign in Philadelphia last Thursday. He will officially become the nominee at the party convention in late summer.
© 2008 Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE