U. Penn Students Working To Influence Important Primary

This story was written by Colin Kavanaugh, Daily Pennsylvanian
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Last December, Iowa and New Hampshire were the centers of the political universe, expected to select the two presidential nominees and let the country get ready for the general election.

But that didn't happen, and nearly two months later, the Democratic nomination battle continues, leaving candidate organizations in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania scrambling for a cohesive strategy and as many volunteers as they can get.

The University of Texas College Democrats realized what was happening on Super Tuesday, when Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton ended the night in a tie for delegates.

"It was clear at that point that the election was coming to Texas," said UT sophomore Andy Jones, public relations chair of the UT College Democrats.

Since then, the organization has registered voters and organized events to get out the vote. Two weekends ago, the group registered more than 2,000 new voters.

The organization is also preparing to help with tonight's CNN Democratic debate between Obama and Clinton in Austin, Texas.

Jones said while the UT Democrats formally asked the candidates to campus, it was "the University [that] worked very hard to host the event."

While the Pennsylvania primary won't happen for more than a month after the Texas and Ohio contests, it is still an important last stand for any chance Clinton might have at becoming the Democratic nominee.

This increasing importance has encouraged University of Pennsylvania for Hillary to create a plan on campus to register voters and get them to the polls.

College freshman Patrick Bauer, communications director of Penn for Hillary, said his group has been closely integrated with the campaign since September and has worked hard in the area regardless of the shifting priority of the Pennsylvania primary.

"[We] always thought this was going to be a tough game," Bauer said. "But we are fully prepared to [not only] turn out votes on campus but also throughout Philadelphia."

The group's plans include debate-watching parties and volunteering at events with Clinton and her prominent supporters, Bauer said.

Obama supporters have engaged in similar efforts, according to Michael Stratton, Co-President of Penn for Obama.

The group is running a voter-registration drive on campus and creating an umbrella Philadelphia Students for Barack Obama organization, Stratton wrote in an e-mail.

The Clinton and Obama campaigns will soon be targeting specific voter demographics in the state, especially women and the elderly, though neither has initiated major efforts as of yet, Fels Institute director Donald Kettl said.

"The Clinton campaign has been focused on the week-by-week battles," Kettl said.
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