If you have been watching the presidential primary campaigns, you’ve witnessed the shift in Senator Hillary Clinton’s strategy during the run-up to the South Carolina Democratic primary. Civilized discourse went out the door in favor of win-at-all-cost politicking.

The Clintons – both Hillary and the former president – blatantly misrepresented Senator Barack Obama’s position on several issues and distorted his comments. These tactics included a radio ad that played a recent quote from Obama out of context and skewed it to give the impression that he agreed with Republican policies on tax cuts, the budget deficit and minimum wage.

I believe that the goal of these attacks on Obama were twofold. Besides the obvious goal of damaging the favorability of Obama, I believe the purpose of Clinton’s switch to negative campaigning was to suppress the emergence of young voters. In the South Carolina primary, Obama took the young vote by 44 percent and it carried him to victory.

In recent decades, young voters have largely avoided the polls. Up and down the ballot they don’t often see a politician they can trust. They are driven away by the back-and-forth rhetoric of political campaigns. But today, the youth have found a place in Obama’s vision for a new kind of politics. And in them, Obama does not just see a way to the White House, but a way to rally this great nation around a common purpose – a purpose greater than any one person.

I commend Clinton in recognizing that Obama has awakened the youth of America. However, I would advise her that now that young voters are engaged in the campaign, her reprehensible tactics are only driving them to work harder for their champion.

-Craig LefortURMC Post-DoctoralResearch Associate

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