U. Rhode Island Considers Presidential Favorites

This story was written by Robert Preliasco, The Good Five Cent Cigar
With the presidential primaries over in Rhode Island, local voters are once again in a spectator role until the national election in November. But University of Rhode Island students and educators still have their favorites.

For example, Vice President of Administration Robert Weygand supports Sen. Barack Obama. The former Rhode Island Congressman and his wife Fran have publicly endorsed the Illinois senator.

Weygand said he originally supported John Edwards but switched to Obama when Edwards dropped out of the race.

Weygand said he agrees with Obama's positions on health care, trade agreements and international relations, such as providing incentives to other nations to raise their labor standards. He said he also approves of Obama's inspirational message.

"He wants to bring people together in a way that would reunify this country," Weygand said. "He would remove the divisiveness and remove the personality attacks that have been occurring these last seven years. That is absolutely essential for the next president of the United States."

Weygand agrees with the political analysts and supporters who have called Obama "Kennedyesque."

"I was a sophomore in 1968 and I remember the campaign of Bobby Kennedy," Weygand said. "Many of us really loved his campaign, his enthusiasm and what he stood for. It reminds me of that time when Bobby Kennedy was running for president and the vision he had."

Many other Obama supporters can be found around campus.

URI student Josh Gonzalez said he has supported Obama since he entered the race.

"He's very charismatic," Gonzalez said about the senator. "He's very different from our current president in his speaking ability, and that's important when you represent our country."

But Gonzalez said he would support Sen. Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination. He said having female or minority representation in the nation's highest office would be not only historic, but also important for the nation.

"Whether or not we admit it we're still a racist country and a sexist country," Gonzalez said.

Another Obama supporter is junior Natalie Rizzo. "I think [Obama] is the most genuine," she said. "I like [John] McCain but I'd rather see what the Democrats can do since we've had a Republican in there for a while."

First year graduate student Chris Latendresse is a supporter of McCain, "because Mike Huckabee is out of the race," he said. Latendresse said he approves of McCain's economic policy and fiscal conservatism.

Some students said they would like to see Obama in a vice presidential role on a ticket with Clinton, an arrangement that Obama dismissed.

"I think that would be a better ticket because she has the experience and he has the allure of being fresh," said fifth year pharmacy student Steph Sharkey.

She added that the Obama ticket seems risky to her because the senator may not have the experience and ability to create the change that he has been campaigning for.

The state of Mississippi is holding its primary Tuesday. There are 650 more delegates at stake until the last primary on June 3 in South Dakota and Montana.
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