Tuesday, August 21, 2007

John McCain's straight talk to youth

It wasn't enough to win the 2000 presidential election, but John McCain's straight talk about campaign finance reform during that bid for office is often held up among campaign strategists as a model of how a candidate can energize the nation's youth while also appealing to older Americans.

So how's he doing this time around?

A Harvard online survey of 3,000 18- to 24-year olds last spring found that McCain was second in popularity among Republican candidates, behind Rudy Giuliani. And while the Arizona Republic observed recently that McCain's audiences this year "are generally dominated by older Americans, many of them military veterans," recent developments on the campaign trail suggest McCain may be ramping up efforts to grab today's younger voters.

He was one of only three GOP candidates to agree to a YouTube debate originally scheduled for Sept. 17. Other candidates were reportedly turned off by the format and venue, especially after watching the Democrats go at it. On Aug. 13, CNN and YouTube announced that the debate was rescheduled for November in hopes that more would sign on.

On Aug. 16, McCain made his 10th appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which everyone knows is where college students get most of their news. And two days earlier, a press release showed up on McCain's web site (www.johnmccain.com) with the somewhat awkwardly stated news that "U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today announced the members of the Iowa Students for McCain Coalition."

(In the interest of balance: A presidential straw poll of about 650 members of a group called Students for Life of America, released Aug. 15, found that Sam Brownback was the top choice with 23 percent of the vote. McCain came in sixth with 5%.)

Time magazine reported back in July that, while McCain had not hired a "youth vote coordinator," a McCain spokesman noted that candidate has a strong presence on two popular social networking sites, Facebook and MySpace. Indeed, a quick check of Facebook finds dozens of groups with the "students for McCain" in the title. (Example: "Duke Students for McCain," "Ohio Students for McCain" etc. Then again, there's also a group called "McCain's the only man dumber than the president we already have.") As of this writing, McCain boasts 40,971 friends on MySpace.

Why do they like McCain? A query has gone out, on behalf of this blogsite, to some student McCain backers. Meanwhile, here are a few postings -- unedited -- from among nearly 800 comments on John McCain's Facebook "wall."

  • Harriton Senior High School, '09: I think your definitely the best Republican candidate by far! I've always thought your views were balanced and that you seem like a nice/good guy! I don't think you get the attention or support that you deserve. Good luck!
  • Wright State University, Dayton Ohio, '10: Even if you don't get the presidency, your contributions to liberty and defense of good and just principles has had a tremendous influence on this nation. Don't sell yourself short in that regard. God bless.
  • College of William & Mary, '11: Even though I am a registered democrat, I would rather see you in the White House than any other candidate, red or blue.
  • Manheim Township, Lancaster, Penn., '08 2008 will be first vote...I'm proud to say it'll be for you.
  • Shawnee Mission East High '08: mcain rules!
  • A "University of St. Andrews alum, '05: Q: " Do you think contraceptives help stop he spread of HIV?" McCain "You've stumped me."You had the support of all the young New Englanders who were sick of this cow-towing to the Religious Right. You were clearly so embarrased to go all out and say "no" so you just sat there and stuttered. We all know what you're trying to do is say "No" to condoms for the Religious Right's sake while secretly communicating to everyone else that you don't actually mean it. Guiliani is happy to be more openly mainstream on these divisive issues and he's polling better. You want to be genuine, but this new insecurity where you are saying things you don't mean, while clearly showing it, drags you down. Please go back to the old McCain and you will have my vote.
  • Colorado College, '11: Though I am disappointed by your recent attempt to curry favor with the Republican base, I decided to support you again after reading your blistering, but reasonable criticism of the farm bill (http://mccain.senate.gov/press_office/view_article.cfm?id=527). Well spoken.

    -- Mary Beth Marklein

No comments: