Although the North Carolina primary will not take place until May 8, UNC Charlotte students like Daniel Rufty are working, not just in the state, but all over the country, to promote their choice candidate’s message.
Rufty currently holds the position of co-chairman in the Youth for Ron Paul Charlotte student organization on campus, the only student organization at UNC Charlotte dedicated to the work of one Republican candidate.
Rufty is also a member of the College Republicans, however, they not currently endorse any candidate and will not do so until after the primary elections are completed.
“It’s important to know that the UNC Charlotte College Republicans do not endorse a candidate until after the primary, so many members will have differing opinions on who they feel would be the better choice at this moment,” said the President of the College Republicans Andrew Kenny.
Rufty believes the nomination of Paul for the Republican candidate is the only way to remove President Barak Obama from the presidency.
“The only way to beat Obama is if Ron Paul gets nominated. That is an educated response that’s not just my theory. When it comes down to Romney the people that are tired of Obama see that Romney is no different,” said Rufty.
According to Pew Research Center Publication President Obama’s received 66 percent of the 18 to 29-years-old group of votes in the 2008 election, while John McCain’s only gained 33 percent of that age group’s votes. The focus now falls on the 2012 election and who will control the vote of the youth.
“Ron Paul, so far, has been the best at generating energy of young voters, in part I think it’s because of the clarity of his libertarian stance. Also part of that is his anti-war stance that is unique in the Republican Party, which is also a key reason why Obama was able to attract a lot of young people’s support in 2008,”said Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at UNC Charlotte on which Republican candidate he thinks will generate the most support from young voters.
When asked what candidate will take the vote of the 18 to 29-years-old age group Rufty also believes Paul has what it takes.
“I think [young voters] are an important thing that the GOP hasn’t caught onto yet. Ron Paul really excites the younger people. If you look on any college campuses the only groups for a certain candidate is Ron Paul,” he said.
Although some think Paul relates the most to the younger voters, there will also be the work of getting them to the polls. In 2008 the percentage of youth voters was at a high of 66 percent for the Democratic Party when it was only 54 percent for the 2004 presidential election.
The Republican Party pulled out less young voters in 2008 then the previous election with 32 percent of the young vote in 2008 and 45 percent in 2004.
“I was really surprised with Obama’s ability to [pull out the young voters] in 2008 so doing it twice would be pretty amazing, particularly since having been president and having to make the decisions that alienate people it’s going to be harder to do this time,” said Heberlig.
The current rise in tuition for college students leads Rufty to believe young voters will be more active in this election due to Paul’s stance on removal of the federal government from education.
“Once you get the idea that the U.S. government isn’t so perfect it starts to open your eyes to things like what are they doing with education? Well they are pretty much controlling everything, not just public schools but also private schools and even college,” said Rufty.
“People wonder why tuition keeps going up in college. It’s not because of inflation but because the government keeps getting involved. Involvement is growing and growing and there’s a positive correlation between that and your tuition going up.”
The only thing Rufty sees standing in the way of Paul engaging the young voters is the media and what he believes to be a blind following of Americans. Rufty thinks the public only votes for who the media gives a majority of their attention to, but also thinks as people begin to trust the media less they will begin doing their own research and be more informed voters.
“Most people don’t research the candidates. They don’t spend the time to look at their background and do independent research. They watch Fox News or CNN, and CNN tells them its Romney, so they go with Romney,” said Rufty.
“People are losing trust in the media. That’s going to be pretty big if people lose trust in what they hear on TV they will go elsewhere for their information.”
Rufty gives the credit for the win of Gingrich in South Carolina and Santorum in Iowa to the media. However, he doesn’t think this will stop the younger voters from stepping up for “freedom and liberty,” which Paul stands for.
According to Rufty the heart of the Paul campaign is getting back the freedom and liberty Americans have “lost and want back.” He feels that to do this our government must be more focused on the powers it is given in the Constitution and not over stepping its boundaries.
“The Constitution is a handbook for our government to follow. It’s not laws for us. It’s laws for them. Here lately in politics they haven’t been following those laws,” he said. Rufty also wants the government to reduce it’s influence in the states by becoming “short and simple,” just like the Constitution.