At Harvard, Nixonites Soft Sell the 'Precincts' Hoping to Identify, and Then Arouse, Support
FRESHMEN LIVING IN Harvard Yard don't slam their doors on the Nixon canvassers that come to talk with them. But the Nixon canvassers soft that a strong McGovern Democrat can answer their questions and watch them leave without ever realizing that the interviewers were Nixon workers.
Canvassing students is only one of the tasks of the Harvard-Radcliffe Students for the Re-election of the President. According to Bill Schuck 74 head of the organization, he has also led 35 Nixon-Agnew supporters in a Veteran's Day parade and attempted to attract prominent Republican speakers to Cambridge.
Schuck and other members of the organization currently hope to lure Senator William Saxbe (R-Ohio) to speak here at the end of this week, but due to scheduling problems his appearance is questionable.
In an apparent attempt to duplicate the performance put on at the Republican National Convention, a delegation of Harvard-Radcliffe Nixon supporters have been invited to attend a Halloween Republican fund-raising dinner at the Boston Armory. Schuck said he expected a sizable number of Boston and Cambridge area students supporting the President to attend.
Schuck is a native of Findlay, Ohio, where he successfully worked his way into the local Republican hierarchy. His political qualifications are reflected in the fact that, at the age of 20, he has already held a political patronage job in his home state. His approach to the problem of identifying and arousing Nixon support at Harvard reflects his background in traditional politics.
Schuck has labelled the Harvard Houses precincts, and assigned captains in canvass individual residents. The canvassers receive detailed instructions, down to details concerning making carbon copies of their tally sheets.
But the instructions clearly indicate that a very low key approach is to be used, and precinct captains are instructed not to identify themselves with the Nixon organization until they have asked the student's presidential preference. Schuck's expectations of the results of the effort are equally modest.
"We're trying to show people that there is a substantial group of moderate students on campus," he said last week. "We don't feel we convince that many people to support the President, but we want to make sure our supporters vote."
Patricia Thoreson 76, a Nixon canvasser, found in covering Mathews Hall Sunday night that among freshmen. "We're outnumbered, but not as much as I thought we were." During an hour in which Crimson reporters accompanied IThoreson Sunday, she encountered only one "antagonistic" person and characterized the people she dealt with as "generally friendly."
By far the most common attitude that Thoreson encountered was an apathetic inclination toward McGoverns Harley A. Peyton '76 characterized himself more as "negative Nixon" than pro-McGovern, and proceeded to say that "Nixon has done some admirable things" while McGovern has "made an awful lot of mistakes--like the Eagleton thing." But Peyton and about 70 per cent of all freshmen (according to a Freshman Council survey) support the Democratic candidate.
Nixon supporters tended to be rather quiet about their preference Sunday. One freshman wanted some Nixon literature "for my roommates" and another refused to say anything until his roommate announced, "He's for Nixon but won't admit it."
Richard Swanson '65 said, "A lot of people here for-McGovern are just following the crowd. There's not much organized feeling around here." Swanson, who leans toward Nixon, explained the absence of public support for Nixon at Harvard by saying: "You have to have reasons to be for Nixon--otherwise you'll just get shot down."