McCain nomination sparks student debate
Despite concerns early last week that Hurricane Gustav might blow the Republican National Convention off schedule, Sen. John McCain was able to officially accept the Republican nomination for president, in front of more than 40 million viewers nationwide.
"I was actually very impressed with McCain's speech because I know [Sen. Barack] Obama is a very charismatic speaker but I thought McCain's speech was actually very moving," said John Pelka, the president of the Rutgers College Republicans.
Pelka, a School of Arts and Sciences senior said the Arizona senator's speech made him excited for the November election.
The convention highlighted the work the campaign has been doing all along, said Peter Feldman, a representative of the John McCain Headquarters for New Jersey and New York. McCain, Feldman said, is a proven fighter and maverick, known for putting the country first and fighting Washington insiders.
"Together with Gov. [Sarah] Palin who is a maverick in her own right, convention watchers saw a team that was sure to shake up Washington," Feldman said.
Pelka said he also thinks the Republican team would be tougher on conventional politics, than Obama and Biden.
"I think a lot of what [Obama] says is fluff," Pelka said. "Personally, I think when it comes down to politics ... [McCain] is going to be a lot harder on lobbyists."
Pelka said he was also impressed with McCain's running mate.
"I think [Palin] is a very strong candidate ... She is kind of a maverick and that compliments McCain's personality very well," Pelka said.
He said her nickname of barracuda shows a really strong personality that will shake up the Washington system.
"I think that she with McCain will do very well to clean up corruption even in her own party," Pelka said.
Other students were more skeptical.
"I don't think there could be a bigger contrast between the two conventions," said Brett Tinder, the president of the RU Democrats. "I didn't hear much about middle class issues, I didn't hear much about the cost of education. I didn't hear much about the economy ... it was mostly biographical."
The convention didn't really show how the candidates would be different than the administration of the last eight years, said Tinder, a Livingston College senior.
He said he respects McCain's service in the military but wants to know more about his plans for the country. He also said it's been tough to know anything about Gov. Palin because the campaign hasn't been allowing interviews.
"She will be a heart beat away from the presidency," Tinder said.
He said the public needs to know more about her stance on health care and other vital issues.
But Ben DeMarzo, the treasurer of the Rutgers College Republicans, said he thought the McCain speech was genuine.
"John McCain's speech was inspiring," said DeMarzo, a Rutgers College junior. "Unlike Obama's empty rhetoric, McCain's speech was about passionately serving America and putting our country first. Obama's speech was about repeating packaged talking points ... It's pretty obvious who is the more genuine candidate."
Demarzo also said young voters are getting more interested in McCain's campaign after he announced his choice of running mate.
"I've had a lot of college friends who never mention politics tell me how amazing they thought her speech was and how they want to get involved with the McCain-Palin campaign," DeMarzo said.
Pelka said he thought McCain's and Palin's speech touched on some issues, important to students, particularly the economy.
When it comes to the economy, Pelka questions the effectiveness of raising taxes on the businesses and the wealthy, as Obama proposed.
"When you effect the high income people, it's obviously going to have an effect on the low income people," Pelka said.
When taxes increase on businesses, Pelka said, they are less able to hire people and cannot afford to pay them as much. Business owners must also raise the prices of their goods and services, he said.
McCain, in his speech at the convention, said he would try to decrease the size of the government, an idea Pelka said he supports.
"I think McCain is a little more sensible in cutting taxes and keeping the government out of our everyday lives," Pelka said.
With many college students concerned about finding a job after graduation, in the competitive market and strained economy, Feldman spoke about the senator's economic package to open up opportunities.
McCain plans to impose strategic tax cuts to corporations and give other economic incentives to companies, encourage investments, keep operations in the country and ultimately create and open up more jobs.
"What that translates [to] for college students is expanding opportunities for college students and I think that is what this is all about," Feldman said.