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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Romney on students’ mind

Published: February 10, 2012
Section: Features

As Massachusetts and the primary here nears, Mitt Romney, recent losses aside, is still the front-runner in the Republican nomination race. Brandeis students have varying reasons as to why they do or do not support him, and whether they believe he is electable.

“I support him and I will be voting for him in the general election,” said Avi Snyder ’13 and head of the Brandeis Libertarian-Conservative Alliance. “He is the only candidate that has everything thought out and I don’t think anyone else is a credible alternative to him.”

Romney is generally regarded as the most presentable of the Republican candidates this election season. “He looks like he could be a president and, sad to say, looks really are important,” said a Brandeis student who asked not to be named.

Aside from looks, overall presentation is also key to how well a politician fares in the eyes of the voter. “Newt Gingrich is offensive to many people and he is prone to say many silly and offensive things, even though he probably could win the general election, but I doubt he’ll win the primary,” continued Snyder. “Santorum is doing well with his recent string of victories, but he did not get many delegates and his appeal is very narrow.”

Another issue which has arisen in the race is his financial background. Romney was born in Detroit, Mich., to an automobile executive and attended elite private schools, before matriculating to Stanford and then transferring to Brigham Young. After attaining a joint business and law degree from an exclusive program coordinated by the Harvard Law and Business schools, he became a management consultant at Boston Capital and eventually CEO of Bain Capital, a private venture firm.

“He is detached, I mean he is a patrician,” said Snyder. “He came from this big political family in Michigan, and he grew up with a lot of privilege. Even though the wealth he has today is almost all self-earned, he really is the typical 1-percenter.” Continuing in this vein, he said, “I don’t think it will really become an issue, however, in the general election as long as he learns to relate to the average blue-collar worker.”

And, indeed, you can see he is making an effort if one looks at his website. The rhetoric used in the context of jobs aims to present Romney’s program as both a break from the past and a return to conservative values. One must “recognize the severity of the break that Mitt Romney proposes from our current course,” using language in some ways reminiscent of Obama, while calling for a “deeply conservative return to policies that have served our nation well.”

“Romney is a centrist Republican who just really, really wants to win,” said Jacob Weiner ’13, head of the Brandeis Democrats. “Like many centrist Republicans, Romney started out as a more moderate candidate but then lurched really far to the right when he realized that he couldn’t get the evangelical vote.”

He continued, “He appears stuck in the ‘I’m very wealthy’ mindset and doesn’t really care about the bottom 99 percent, and you can tell when he said he didn’t care about the poor.”

“I think it’s also very important to note that he has literally been incapable of coming up with any concrete solutions to just about anything,” said Ula Rutkowska ’11 during the course of the same interview. “Though he is also the only candidate that appeals to both moderates and intense conservatives.”

“If people are sick of Obama enough to elect a Republican, then Romney would be the other choice. He is not radical enough for most Republicans, the way the party is now,” opined another student who asked to remain anonymous.

On the issues that directly affect Brandeis students the most, namely college tuition, student loans and the cost of health care, most seemed to agree that Mitt Romney has not formulated a particular stance in response to these concerns.

“I don’t really know, actually, what his stance on student loans might be since he hasn’t really addressed them,” Avi Snyder said. “I believe the government’s involvement in giving student loans plays a large role in hikes in tuition rates, and I know there are some things that will affect me adversely if Romney is elected.” But, he continued, “I believe on a more holistic level, there are more things Romney is right about than he is wrong about.”

“I think the important thing to keep in mind is how these issues affect people our age,” said Naomi Volk ’14, a member of the Brandeis Democrats. She further said, “Things like health care, social security, and the possibility of losing these things when we get older … we really have to think about what the consequences of those policies will be.”