Stump-less: our case of missing candidates

DKS Editors

There’s something missing in this year’s presidential campaign.

It’s not cleverly crafted national conventions, impromptu press events staged in key locations or even the slew of merchandise that’s plastered both candidates’ heads on everything from buttons to underwear.

It’s the candidates – Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain.

There seems to have been a mix-up somewhere at both campaigns’ Ohio headquarters. Despite our more than 20,000 students, neither has made the time to hold an on-campus rally here at Kent State. Imagine, little blue and gold “change” signs or posters that decree, “Reform. Prosperity. Peace. Excellence.”

Sure, Chelsea Clinton came to the Kent campus and former President Bill Clinton visited Kent State Tuscarawas during the primaries in February and March, but since Super Tuesday, we’ve been anxiously tapping our toes, waiting as visit after visit seems to just pass right by our university.

Apparently, those in charge of planning these events don’t see things the way we do – and we can’t say we blame them.

Especially in this last home stretch before the big day, the candidates are focusing their attention on the areas of the state that are typically undecided and therefore often crucial in deciding our state’s fragile election. Stops like Obama’s at a church in Lima and a rally outside Columbus last weekend and McCain’s in Dayton last week and Lebanon today are calculated to attract voters who have high stakes in this election. If unemployment suddenly skyrocketed, and there was a surge in blue-collar workers in Portage County, we guarantee we’d have both candidates at the M.A.C. Center within weeks of one another.

This strategy is just good politics – targeting areas where voters often are invested in the issues but often apathetic about getting to the polls to support either candidate. Obama launched an aggressive campaign targeting college students last week here at Kent State, while representatives from McCain’s campaign gave a quite direct and startling response when we asked about its plans to canvass here – they have none.

But even though we can make sense of the presidential candidates’ absence here and at other major Ohio universities, we still don’t think it’d be a bad idea if they happened to show up sometime during the next 56 days. The editorial board has already made two invitations in this space since the Primaries in the spring, and President Lester Lefton assured us that he has personally signed off on official invitations from the university for both Obama and McCain.

We understand our campus may not turn out the crowds whose votes the candidates need to push this election in their favor, but they shouldn’t be so quick to pass us by. A small gesture of appreciation and gratitude would be reassuring – a kind of high-five, “thanks for the support” stop is all we’re suggesting.

To Sens. Obama and McCain: We know you’re busy, but give us five minutes. You made your quick touchdown in Cleveland on your way to the Republican National Convention last week. You spoke at our own sister campus last Wednesday.

Our campus may be a little out of the way, we’ll admit, but a slight diversion off your track could guarantee you a few thousand more votes in a swing state where you can use every last one of them – especially with the new voting law that allows students to register as in-state residents until Oct. 6.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose

members are listed to the left.