Candidates' Final Push for Presidency

Contemplating and condensing the turbulence exhibited by this nearly two-year long race for the White House can be described as a monumental undertaking. It's hard to believe this election will cease in less than a week on Nov. 4, when Americans all over the United States head to the polls, ready to select the next president.

This means it's time for the candidates to give their last few speeches to get the voting public on their side, and voters are going to have to put aside all the controversies provided by this media blitz and find out which candidate will suit their needs.

To some it might be a staggering task to sum up Barack Obama's and John McCain's campaigns, which have pulled every trick in the politician's handbook. Words have been twisted and misconstrued by both candidates, which hasn't helped. The Associated Press on Oct. 18 quoted McCain saying, "Obama wants to convert the IRS into a giant welfare industry, redistributing wealth at the direction of politicians in Washington." Obama rebutted, "McCain wants to cut taxes for the same people who have been making out like bandits, in some cases literally."

It's like a classic example of he said, she said. Obama says one thing and McCain reinterprets it into something else, and vice versa. It's important for uninformed voters, or those who have been relying on the many news outlets, to go straight to the heart of each campaign to get the facts. The best way to accomplish this is to go to their websites, www.BarackObama.com and www.JohnMcCain.com, to find out where they stand.

In an effort to hear from the campaigns in the last few crucial days of the election, local spokespersons from the McCain, Obama and even the Nader campaigns were contacted so they could say their peace before Election Day. Here are the three different parties' thoughts on their chance for victory on Nov. 4:

On Barack Obama: "While we remain optimistic that voters will elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Election Day, we know how quickly the dynamic can change in campaigns and for that reason we aren't taking anything for granted. The fact that the McCain campaign is having to defend states that voted for Bush in 2004 is an encouraging sign, but we will only win if our supporters turn out on Nov. 4," said Brian Brokaw, spokesperson for the California Democratic Party.

On John McCain: "At this point, we're seeing lots and lots of variance in these polls. It's still very, very close and [a few days] is like an eternity. We're very happy with the campaign McCain has run. Senator McCain has a unique appeal and a unique message, he's keeping himself competitive in the campaign and we are optimistic," said Kevin Roberts, deputy communications director for the California Republican Party.

On Ralph Nader: "By running this election, he helps make it possible that health care for all Americans or a living wage, or a peaceful foreign policy might win in the future," said Toby Heaps, spokesperson for the Ralph Nader 2008 campaign.

Here is what they had to say on what their candidate would offer the college community, and why college students, in particular, should support their candidate.

On McCain: "The policies of the next presidency are going to have an immediate impact. From our perspective Senator McCain has the right policies to turn the economy around, which will directly effect the next generation," said Roberts.

On Obama: "Barack Obama will refocus our priorities away from the wealthiest Americans toward the middle class and young Americans who are struggling under the Bush Administration. He will work to make it easier to attend and pay for college, and get a good job once you're out of school. And he'll cut taxes for every American making less than $250,000 a year," said Brokaw.

On Nader: "He would implement free tuition, as is done in many countries in Europe," said Heaps.

Finally, they offered up the encompassing reasons why their candidate should be elected the next president.

On Nader: "He is the only choice where you can register your support for single payer health care for all, an honest carbon tax and emphasis on renewable energy to curb global warming, a living wage, and a humanitarian based foreign policy," said Heaps.

On Obama: "Barack Obama will bring about change in Washington D.C. and around the world. John McCain, on the other hand, would offer nothing more than another four years of the Bush Administration's disastrous policies, both at home and abroad," said Brokaw.

On McCain: "He's got a record of accomplishment and reaching across the aisle, finding solutions that are really important to the American public. When you look at his record, he, on more than one occasion, put his political career on the line for the American public," said Roberts.

With the vast amount of information and misinformation out there, the majority of Santa Monica College voters still seem prepared to head to the polling booths this coming Tuesday with their candidates selected.

"I'm voting for Obama. It's a very subtle reason [why], basically, when he is in a debate he actually says he wants to be president for the people, and when McCain speaks he says 'I, I, I, me, me, me,' It sounds trivial but it would be fun to have Obama as president," said anthropology major LeeAnna Bowman-Carpio.

Ask enough SMC students around the new quad their presidential choice and it becomes clear that Obama is the preferred choice; but there are still McCain supporters around campus.

History major Daniel Ebrami is voting for McCain because "[of] his foreign policy, it's probably more pro-Israel."

Given that California is generally a democratic state, Republicans around campus find going to the polls a little disheartening. "I think voting is important, but as someone who would vote for the Republican Party in California, it's kind of useless because your vote doesn't really count. The state is so overwhelmingly democratic," said history major Adriano Yashar.

Republican students still feel it is important to express their political views. "It's more important to get your word out than to vote in California because the Democrats are the majority," said Ebrami.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, a few SMC democratic students continue to ponder the worth of their vote in the wake of a few controversial elections. "With Al Gore and the whole Bush situation, that made me feel like my vote didn't count at all. Everyone was leaning towards Al Gore and it totally switched over with some situation that I didn't even understand. I'm still going to vote, but it's still discerning," said business management major Yasmin Shanker.

Regardless of their political party, most students still believe they count in the election process. "I think it's important because everybody's vote counts, and of course they should be exercising their right to vote. I've just always been interested in the government process and I think it's fascinating. I think if we actually want to see a change in where we live we actually have to get involved in the election process as well," said Bowman-Carpio.

Nothing in life is certain, a democratic state one day could plausibly become a republican state overnight, given the uncertainty of the political race. Remember, on Election Day, you won't just be voting for the next president, but also for local governance and some of the most important propositions the California ballot has ever seen.

No matter what anyone says, exercise your right to vote, and vote on your terms. "To vote is like the payment of a debt-a duty never to be neglected, if its performance is possible," wrote the 19th President of the U.S., Rutherford Birchard Hayes.

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