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DURHAM, N.H.--University of New Hampshire (UNH) students say they are looking forward to Tuesday's Republican primary, their first chance to vote in a presidential election.
Each Republican candidate has stopped in this college town, and many students interviewed while eating lunch earlier this month at the local Burger King say they are ready to cast their ballots.
"I've been studying up on the flat tax," says UNH junior Michael Wallin, a supporter of Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes Jr. "It's simple, it saves money, and it's the best deal for people just entering the job market."
The importance of the college vote has not been lost on most candidates, and UNH campus political groups have been passing out leaflets and holding signs.
"[Candidates] have been doing a lot of work here at school," says UNH senior Niraj Ajmere.
Wallin says dozens of his friends attended Forbes's appearance earlier this month at nearby Oyster River High School, where the candidate discussed his tax reform proposals.
It is appearances like Forbes's at the local high school that make campaigning in New Hampshire unique.
The state's size and its lack of a population center force presidential candidates to meet citizens face-to-face.
"It's such a rush," says UNH junior Jennifer Heise, a supporter of conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan. "I grew up in Connecticut, so I never had the chance to meet all these politicians up close."
Heise says she supports Buchanan because of his "strong pro-life and pro-family positions" and also because she was inspired by his speech in Durham in mid-January.
But not all students are studying the issues of the day.
Jason Cameron, a UNH first-year, says he has not attended any of the speeches or debates. But Cameron adds that he would vote for President Clinton because his family has supported the Democratic Party "since the depths of the Depression."
But neither the issues nor the candidates' party affiliation are the primary concern for some college voters.
UNH junior Michael Jurgis says he has been "disappointed" by the field of Republican candidates and would probably vote for automotive parts executive Maurice "Morry" Taylor, who polls have suggested has the support of only one percent of New Hampshire voters.
"I don't know anything about him, but I know the other guys are full of smoke and hot air," said Jurgis.
UNH senior Sonja Martinez also says she has not been following the issues--but she knows that she would be voting for Dole.
"He's cute," she said. "He looks like a teddy bear."
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