2008 presidential election may see several firsts

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (U-WIRE) — Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson all share something besides a bid for the presidency in 2008 — each candidate also represents a possible first for the United States of America.

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull was the first female nominated as a presidential candidate on the Equal Rights Party ticket. Now, former first lady Hillary Clinton plans to run on the Democratic ticket as the first major female candidate.

“I think Clinton’s got a strong chance to take it all,” Kevin Bogelansky, a junior at the University of Miami, said of the current junior senator from New York. “Everyone knows her face and her policies. Congress is all Democrats now, and I think we’ll get a Democratic president.”

Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, is currently the only African-American in the Senate and hopes to be the first elected president.

In an interview with “Newsweek,” Obama said, “Stereotypes and prejudices still exist in American society, and for the highest office in the land a female or African-American candidate would, at the outset, confront some additional hurdles to show that they were qualified and competent.”

University of Miami students understand the significance that the 2008 election brings in relation to the possibility of running a historical candidate.

“This is going to be a really exciting election,” Erin Schlissel, a sophomore, said. “We could have our first female president or first black president and they are both outstanding.”

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney plans to run on the Republican Party ticket against fellow Republican front-runners such as John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani, both of which have not yet made a formal announcement as to whether they will run. If elected, Romney would be the first Mormon president.

In addition, Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, has expressed serious interest in running for president in the next election. Richardson not only comes from a battleground state, but would also represent the first Hispanic president.

The 2008 election is still 21 months away, yet already has a long list of candidates. Thus far, 27 people have either officially filed for candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, formed exploratory committees or have expressed interest in running for president from the Democratic and Republican parties alone.

Many Miami students have not decided who they might vote for, but have expressed interest in the election.

“I haven’t had the time to research yet, but I do want to,” Stefania Henning, a junior, said. “I’ve heard about (the candidates) on TV, but the media has a lot of control over how people are portrayed. I’ve only heard of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton because that’s what the media has showed me.”

Other students agree that they need more knowledge before making a decision.

“You can’t make a good decision without significant facts,” Kevin Mazzarella, a junior said. “When (the candidates) are not in front of the camera, who are they going to be?”

Besides presenting the electorate with a choice of candidates who represent a multitude of backgrounds, the 2008 election is also the first election in 80 years that will not feature an incumbent president or an incumbent vice president as a candidate.

Furthermore, this could be the first election that breaks campaign fundraising records. Federal Election Commission (FEC) Chairman Michael Toner announced that 2008 will be the most expensive election that America has ever seen. Toner estimated that candidates will have to raise at least $100 million to be taken seriously.

Students interested in learning more about the 2008 election may visit democrats.org or gop.com.