John McCain tackles plan for all the major campaign issues

Following Obama’s lead, Senator McCain held a rally on Tuesday at Robert Morris University, 25 miles outside of Pittsburgh in Moon Township. On Thursday, McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, spoke to crowds at a high school in nearby Beaver County.

McCain emphasized his experience in foreign policy serving as a naval pilot during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and said that a surge of American troops will enable the country to win the war in Iraq and possibly in Afghanistan as well, policies he noted that Sen. Obama does not support, according to an Oct. 22 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“I will not be a president who needs to be tested. I have been tested. Senator Obama has not,” McCain said.

He also opposed Sen. Obama’s plan to increase the taxes of those who make over $250,000 annually.

“[Senator Obama] believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans,” McCain said.

Palin delivered similar sentiments on Thursday, arguing that Obama’s economic policies were a form of socialism, according to an Oct. 23 article in the Post-Gazette.

“He’s hiding his agenda of redistributing your hard-earned money,” she said.

Palin also restated her and Sen. McCain’s ardently pro-life stance on abortion and said that she would be an advocate in the White House for parents with special-needs children, reminding the crowd that her 6-month-old son, Trig, has Down syndrome, according to the Post-Gazette article.

Aaron Marks, a junior business major and president of College Republicans, did not attend either event but has been responsible for the re-establishment of College Republicans on campus, a group that until this semester had been defunct since 2006.

“Now we have a president-elect and congressional candidates that need our support,” he said.

Marks said he did not think there was anything in McCain’s platform that pertained specifically to college students, but added that he didn’t think Obama’s platform contained anything in particular on the subject either. He didn’t state his position on McCain’s economic plan, but said that he didn’t think Obama’s plan is going to get Americans out of the current economic troubles.

“I supported President Bush in 2004, but he has dug us deeper into national debt,” he said.

Marks said that College Republicans have been attending local events and spending weekends knocking on doors and making phone calls to encourage Pittsburgh residents to support McCain. He acknowledged that the McCain campaign did not have an office in Pennsylvania, a state which has not been won by a Republican in more than 20 years and this year registered over 500,000 new Democrats, according to an Oct. 22 article in the Post-Gazette. However, he said, the organization did have local contacts.

“We’re not leveraging those so much as acknowledging that they exist,” Marks said. “John’s campaign said recently this is going to be one of his crucial states and they’re pouring a lot of resources here. It’s a significant number of votes if he wins. It’s a tough state to win.”

Marks noted that there were 100 members of the official group distribution list but that attendance at the organization’s meetings “fluctuates.”

“The tough thing is being at CMU. Everyone has a lot of things on their plate,” he said. “I am personally of the opinion that there is a strong and very silent minority [of McCain supporters] who we’re not hearing from.”

Marks said he was encouraged by the increased political participation of students on campus but that “a large percentage of this campus is apathetic. For a school with a lot of foreign students, that’s apt to be the case.”

Regardless of Obama’s current lead in Pennsylvania, Marks is taking a “wait-and-see” attitude on the election results.

“Historically, when they say that one candidate is far ahead in the polls, that’s not the case. Obama has a lot of followers, so I’m not sure what that will translate into.”

And what will he do if John McCain doesn’t win?

“I’ll cry,” he said. “I’ll have to accept a Democratic majority in Congress and look forward to 2010 and 2012.”

Marks said that College Republicans had tried to plan non-partisan events with Students for Obama and College Democrats, such as a debate, but that both groups have been busy in the final weeks leading up to the campaign. The Triple Helix did host a debate last Tuesday however, at which all three of these organizations discussed policies.

Nichols said the two sides may combine to paint the Fence to express a “divided we fail” attitude after the election results are announced, regardless of who wins.

Marks echoed Nichols’ sentiment about the importance of encouraging students to vote and care about the election, regardless of partisan attitudes.

“Regardless of your persuasion, I think it’s disappointing if you don’t exercise your right to vote. The turnout [for young people] is significantly less than other demographics,” he said.

Marks is from Pittsburgh and is a registered Pennsylvania voter.