As Republicans tout their expertise on national security and
Democrats counter that this year’s election should focus on
the troubled economy, University students appear equally divided
between international and domestic concerns in making their choice
for a candidate.

Many students are still upset about the war in Iraq and its
implications for Americans.

LSA junior Jeff Kominsky said he feels the American presence in
Iraq is a topic that needs to be addressed in the upcoming
presidential elections. “As a Democrat, I think the most
important issue is the Iraqi war,” he said. “Was it
reasonable? Was it justified? You know, they haven’t found
any (weapons of mass destruction) yet.”

Other students feel that national security is the most critical
topic that the presidential candidates need to address.

LSA senior Steve MacGuidwin, president of the College
Republicans, said President Bush has an exemplary record on
national security. “He is the only one who is qualified (to
be president). He took the nation through its darkest hour. He is
the only one who can end terrorism.”

LSA freshman Erwin Burns also said keeping America safe from
attack was his primary political concern. “Since terrorism is
the biggest thing going on right now, I think national security
would be the most important issue,” he said.

Many University students feel equal concern over both
international and domestic issues.

“Issues include what we are going to do about the Iraq
situation, and the economy over here. A lot of people are having a
hard time finding jobs. I couldn’t find an internship for
this summer,” Engineering freshman Kevin Xu said.

For many University students, the economy remains one of their
biggest anxieties as they consider their post-graduation
prospects.

“I would say the economy is going to be the biggest issue,
with the U.S. coming out of the recession, and getting jobs back to
the people,” LSA junior Ryan Ford said.

Ford added that he was an undecided voter until it became clear
that John Kerry would win the Democratic nomination. Then he
decided to support President Bush. “There’s a
possibility I would have voted for Joe Lieberman, if he was
nominated, but Kerry seems to go in two different directions and is
very weak in defense,” he said.

Domestic issues such as gay marriage, reproductive rights, and
education are also cause for concern to many University
students.

LSA senior Mahima Mahadevan said that she wants the presidential
candidates to take firm stances on gay marriage.

“I was hoping that John Kerry would take a stand one way
or another on gay marriage. By his attitude of trying to ignore the
issue, it really makes a statement about him,” she said.

Despite her displeasure with Kerry’s vacillating stance on
gay marriage, Mahadevan said she still intends to vote for him.
“Right now I’m planning to vote for John Kerry,”
she admitted. “I’m one of those ‘anybody but
Bush’ people.”

LSA junior Lauren Snabb said she feared the Bush administration
might undermine the rights of women. “What sticks in my mind,
because we were just talking about it in my Women’s
Reproductive Health class, is reproductive health issues, and the
appointment of new court justices,” she said. “I want
women’s rights to be protected, and I feel that Bush would
not do as good of a job as Kerry.”

LSA sophomore Luke Meinzen named education as the single most
important topic that candidates should focus on. “I think a
lot of social problems that need to be addressed have to do with
education, and equalizing how much schools are financed, rather
than a local income tax,” he said.

Meinzen added that he did not intend to vote for either major
party candidate. “I actually plan on voting for a third party
candidate, because I think the two party system is
ineffective,” he said. “Even if I don’t agree
with the third party candidate, I will vote for him so that he gets
federal funding.” Meinzen said that he will vote for Ralph
Nader, the Green Party nominee in the 2000 election, if Nader makes
it onto the 2004 ballot as an independent candidate.

But many University students are undecided about the
year’s presidential elections, and hope to gather more
information about the candidates in the months to come.

Kinesiology freshman Leon Hall said that he had not yet decided
upon a particular candidate, and urged other voters to educate
themselves before making their decision. “I think the most
important thing is that everyone is informed about who they are
voting for,” he said. Meanwhile, some University students
said they feel alienated from the political process.

LSA freshman Helen Wong said that the 2004 presidential
elections seem far removed from the concerns of her everyday life.
“To be honest, I’m really aloof,” she said.
“Government at that level is just not as pressing as college
life. I think it definitely is relevant, but in college there are
more urgent things right now.”

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