U. community reacts to Democratic convention


For three days last week, the Pepsi Stadium in Denver, Colo. was filled with leaders of the Democratic Party, past presidents and thousands of supporters. With about 84,000 in attendance and more than 38 million television viewers watching the Democratic National Convention, Sen. Barack Obama accepted the nomination as the party's candidate for president.

But what does the convention and the nomination mean for University students and New Jersey residents?

Brett Tinder, the president of RU Democrats, said he supports Obama and his ideas.

"Over the past four years, the middle class has been shrinking in size," said Tinder, a Livingston College senior. "I feel [the reason is] President Bush's policies."

The Democrats have brought the middle class back into focus, he said. Finding a job may be one of the top concerns for graduating seniors, but Tinder said he thinks renewable energy and the green sector is a part of the economy waiting to be tapped into.

"[Obama] wants to invest $150 billion into the green sector, so he very much supports that," Tinder said.

But Ben DeMarzo, the treasurer of Rutgers College Republicans, said he was skeptical.

"All I kept hearing from the Democrats was new ways to raise taxes," said DeMarzo, a Rutgers College junior. "As young people entering the job market, the last thing we want to see is the federal government taking a bigger cut of our paychecks, which seems to be Obama's plan."

Though the senator spoke about new programs such as universal health care as well as raising pay for teachers, DeMarzo said Obama never gave any examples of how he was going to pay for it.

"He keeps saying that taxes won't go up on 95 percent of working families without ever defining what a working family is," DeMarzo said.

But Monika Chopra, the vice president of the RU Dems, said she was impressed by Obama's speech and felt he was in tune with the average American, particularly young people.

"I think he would definitely keep [young people] in mind during his presidency," Chopra said.

Director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics Ruth Mandel said Obama placed strong emphasis on education at all levels, saying he and his wife are examples of educational opportunity.

"He expressed support for college affordability, saying he would make sure that anyone willing to perform service for the community would be rewarded with support for some portion of college costs," she said.

Mandel, who attended the campaign, said many Democrats talked about the importance of the young vote.

The convention also served to bring the Democrats together after the primary. Mandel said Clinton supporters seemed to support the party. She said, initially, there was some opposition from her supporters but it was minimal, particularly after her speech.

"Everywhere I went I saw people coming out to support the party and the ticket in the general election," Mandel said.

When Clinton told her supporters she was voting for Obama, Mandel said, they began wearing buttons of support for party's candidate.

"The Democrats know they need to work together to win," Mandel said.

Though both Clinton and Obama had support from different leaders in New Jersey, after attending the state's reception, Mandel said they seem to be united behind Obama.

"I saw no signs of anything but support for the ticket," Mandel said.

Though Gov. Jon S. Corzine originally supported Clinton, spokesman Robert Corrales said he is now firmly committed to the Illinois senator.

"He is supporting Sen. Obama and he is willing to do anything to get him elected at this point," Corrales said. "He is going to work as hard as he can."

Tinder and Mandel said the most important thing is that students get involved.

"It's a big choice between what we've had for the past eight years and the choice we [will have] under Barack Obama," Tinder said. "It's a choice between Bush's policies and a new path under Obama."

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Michelle Cerone

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