Student Activists Hype Bush-Clinton Race Into

Student political leaders, like their counterparts in Little Rock and Washington, are very predictable when it comes to their predictions of support.

On both sides, Republicans and Democrats are hyping the fall presidential campaign on campus like promoters of a big-time boxing bout.

Listen to Gregory S. Chernak '93, head of Harvard/Radcliffe for Clinton: "I'm expecting big things," he says.

Now listen to Emil Michael '94, head of the Harvard Republican Club: "We have some good plans, some big plans."

Both camps say the student electorate is likely to be energized in what promises to be a close election.


And if history is any indication, they may be justified. Students, generally apathetic when it comes to politics, come alive every four years.

Linda D. Rottenberg '90, now in her third year at Yale Law School, ran Harvard Students for Dukakis/Bentsen in 1988. She says 1000 students from the University worked for the ill-fated campaign.

The scene on campus during the last election, Rottenberg says, was far from apathetic. Supporters of then-Massachusetts Governor Michael S. Dukakis organized in each house, displayedcampaign posters in their dorm windows, sold morethan 2000 T-shirts, and woke up early to holdDukakis signs in the Cambridge traffic.

"Young Republicans were pretty active, too,"Rottenberg says.

Student activism in 1992 is likely to bebolstered by increased attention by nationalcampaigns, a trend foreseen by College Democratsof America President James M. Harmon '93-94.Harmon says the Clinton/Gore campaign emphasizesregistering young voters and campus appearances.

Rottenberg says campus political strategies,like national ones, adjusts to the candidates inany particular election year. Dukakis struggledwith an image as a cold-blooded technocrat, so hisyouthful supporters sought to "pep people up" and"generate excitement."

There is no dearth of excitement in this year'selection, so student volunteers will be doing lesscheerleading and more footwork--registeringvoters, and canvassing neighborhoods to get theircandidate's message out.

Both parties hope to attract students tovolunteer in the campaign. Connecticut, with itseight electoral votes, is a swing state and willlikely draw Harvard students hoping to make adifference.

Massachusetts will almost certainly go to theDemocrats, but Michael says the Republicans hopeto achieve the strongest mandate possible.

"It's still important to garner as many votesin Massachusetts as we can," Michael says.

The rhetoric is likely to escalate as November3 draws nearer and, although every presidentialelection is framed as historic, this year'scontest highlights issues of particular interestto many students.

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