Political Forum Begins

Gathering at IOP To Kick Off 1996 Presidential Race

Though the New Hampshire primary, the official kick-off of the 1996 presidential campaign, is still months away, Harvard is already gearing up for the race.

A conference at the Kennedy School of Government this weekend will introduce New England college students to the 1996 campaign and the inner workings of politics.

"This is basically the IOP's [Institute of Politics'] kick-off event of our examination of the '96 elections," said conference chair Andrei H. Cerny '97.

The IOP-sponsored conference begins tonight with an open house at the Arco Forum from 5 to 7 p.m. Though the rest of the conference requires pre-registration, the initial open house is free and open to the public.

"Booths from every candidate's campaign [will show] off some of the cutting edge technology that is being used in this election cycle," Cerny said.


Along with the more traditional literature and pamphlets, displays will feature television screenings with information about candidates and even some World Wide Web campaign sites, Cerny said.

Among the campaigns represented will be those of nine Republican candidates, President Clinton's reelection campaign and a group trying to convince retired Gen. Colin L. Powell to run.

Visitors may register to vote and volunteer for individual campaigns at the open house. Cerny said he expects between 400 and 500 people to attend.

During the rest of the weekend conference, students from 13 New England colleges will meet with campaign managers and representatives.

Tomorrow, the 250 students will attend seminars on topics such as polling, press relations, speech-writing and fund-raising.

The speakers are "top people in the field who have really made their mark on the political realm," Cerny said. "It's really a once in a lifetime opportunity--where else can you have Bill Clinton's pollster teach you how to do polling!"

This conference is the first of its kind that the IOP has organized. "It's a sign of a rekindling of political activism in this generation," Cerny said