Students join campaigns

GW senior Anjan Choudhury is on the phone a lot. He talks politics. He makes a lot of plans, but his are a little different than his classmates’.

Choudhury regularly talks to press secretaries and state government officials. His plans? To connect them to issues concerning college students and young people.

Choudhury is the political affairs director of the College Democrats of America and chairman of GW’s CD organization. His job consists of fieldwork, making conference calls and talking to the Democratic National Committee about how young Democrats can get Vice President Al Gore elected president.

I think (youth involvement) was slow at first, but I think a lot of students see that they have issues at stake, he said.

Shannon Flaherty, vice chair of GW’s College Republicans, said she first gets young people involved at the campus level, then with grass-roots campaigning in state elections.

We pretty much have Virginia locked, she said, noting that campaigning in the largely Republican state has been a breeze.

Flaherty and the CRs hope to spread their message on both a campus and local level. The group will participate in a fundraiser for the National Republican Senate Committee and publish articles about Bush’s foreign policy in GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs newsletter to accomplish its goal.

Flahety also said the CRs help GW students register to vote.

These are ways we can increase our message, Flaherty said.

GW junior Beth Lester literally assists in getting messages out to the press and the world. She is the political affairs chair of the CDs and chair of the women’s leadership forum for the College Democrats of America. Lester was a White House intern last spring and summer. She has helped prepare press events for Gore this fall.

We make sure that we can create an environment that is conducive to getting Gore’s message out and to help the press get their story out, Lester said.

The story, as Choudhury, Flaherty and Lester tell it, is one of a strong youth movement, which opposes the idea that young voters are apathetic to the political process.

The message of youth involvement in campaigns is clear to America, as Karenna Gore Schiff, Kristin Gore, and George P. Bush have appeared at the Republican and Democratic national conventions.

They have two things in common with many GW students involved in the campaigns: their youth and a passion for the upcoming presidential election.

Ninety-nine CDs campaigned for Gore and Virginia Democratic Senate Candidate Chuck Robb Saturday – a turnout Choudhury found staggering.

It was just Virginia we were going to, not any place exotic like New York or Philadelphia, and so many kids came, Choudhury said. It was amazing to see all those kids lined up at the Metro at 9 a.m.

GW’s CDs have planned several more of these campaign trips.

We already have kids signed up for all 11 trips, Choudhury said. It’s crazy. It’s like we can’t keep up with the demand.

While GW’s CDs were campaigning for Robb and Gore in Vienna, Va., the CRs were busy campaigning for Robb’s Republican opponent, George Allen and Bush in Springfield, Va.

We have a campaign trip planned almost every weekend for Allen and Bush, said senior Bill Eldridge, chairman of the CRs.

With issues like social security and education, young people have a good reason to support Bush, Eldridge said.

I feel young people are starting to look at these issues, Eldridge said. I feel young people are getting very excited about this campaign.

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