Politics mixed with football as Michigan’s political candidates exhibited a more personal side to students during the tailgate before the annual football clash between rivals Michigan and Michigan State Saturday.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Dick Posthumus walked among the tailgaters, shaking hands, introducing himself to voters and even signing footballs – which required the use of a reporter’s pen.

“It’s a chance for them to see who we really are,” Posthumus said. Wearing khakis and a gray sweater, Posthumus weaved through the Crisler Arena parking lot, escorted by his daughter Heather and several student supporters.

“Part of it is to fire people up … to get them out to vote,” he said.

Posthumus’ message seemed to find a receptive audience before the game. Political yard signs and people wearing campaign stickers mixed in with the traditional Michigan and Michigan State fanfare.

Posthumus called the turnout of students interested in politics “fantastic” and said he believed he had won new supporters, thereby accomplishing one of his campaign goals.

“One of the things I wanted to do was to show that the political pundits were all wrong, and that the students are going to vote,” he said.

Matt Nolan, a member of Students for Posthumus, said the in-state rivalry and pre-game tailgate traditionally attract many political candidates. He said decisions made by voters now will affect college students in the future.

“These are your issues, these are our issues,” Nolan said.

Fifty to 60 student volunteers formed satellite groups and scattered around the parking lot to support Posthumus, Nolan said.

Melvin Butch Hollowell, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, was also in Ann Arbor Saturday. Just prior to kickoff, he could be seen shaking hands and introducing himself to prospective voters cutting across Elbel Field on the way to the game.

“We want people to know help is on the way,” Hollowell said. “We’re going to bring people together for election reform, to professionalize our election training staff and cracking down on car repair fraud.”

A contingent of students from the Association of Michigan Universities had arguably the largest presence outside of the stadium.

Also on Elbel Field, students from the student governments at the University’s Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses gave out free pizza and T-shirts emblazoned with the message “Vote No on Proposal 4.”

“Stop the robbers at the door, vote no on 4,” went the refrain. Proposal 02-4 would mandate within the state constitution that 90 percent of the state’s settlement with tobacco companies be spent on health care and smoking cessation programs. It is now mainly spent on the $2,500 MEAP Merit Award scholarships.

Junior Frank Kinney, president of the student government at the University’s Dearborn campus, said many people he talks to know little if anything about the proposal and incorrectly assume opponents of the proposal are backed by tobacco companies.

“(The proposal) is taking away the merit scholarships,” Kinnney said.

Republican secretary of state candidate Terri Land and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Granholm also campaigned at the tailgate but could not be reached for comment.

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