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D.C. Area Votes Tuesday

Students "Barack the Vote" at University of Maryland Rally

By Madison Hartke-Weber | null null , null
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama greets supporters at a rally at the University of Maryland on Monday, February 11, 2008, in College Park. (Photo: ©RickBowmer/AP Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama greets supporters at a rally at the University of Maryland on Monday, February 11, 2008, in College Park. (Photo: ©RickBowmer/AP Images)

It's primary election day for Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The remaining candidates—three Republicans and two Democrats—campaigned heavily in the area over the weekend. Scholastic News attended several events and will report final results from the McCain election party Tuesday night.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is being challenged by Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, will most likely win the night for his political party. Paul chances of winning the nomination are almost nil. Huckabee's threat to McCain is his influence among ultraconservatives. Huckabee won primaries in Kansas and Louisiana over the weekend.

Currently, Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are neck and neck. In Tuesday's primaries, however, Obama is a clear favorite. Polls show that the Senator from Illinois is likely to win both states and the District of Columbia hands down.

The Clinton campaign has acknowledged Obama's advantage. New Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams said the New York Senator's campaign will be setting its sights on upcoming races in Ohio and Texas.

Meanwhile, in events around the nation's capital, candidates wooed voters and delivered their messages in traditional town halls and rallies.

"Barack the Vote"

More than 18,000 people packed the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland in College Park on Monday. They came, not to see a Terrapins
basketball game but instead to get a chance to see Barack Obama.

The stands were crowded with college students carrying signs that said "Barack the Vote," "Party Like Barack Star," and "Fear the Turtle, Don't Fear Change"—a reference to the University of Maryland's popular mascot, the terrapin.

These enthusiastic Obama supporters did the wave, while listening to a DJ spin records. As they waited for the Senator, they shouted, "Ready to Go—Fired Up!"

Obama supporters waited more than two hours to hear their favorite candidate make a speech on what he plans to do if he is elected President. Some of the people there were volunteers who traveled from other states to help with the Obama campaign.

"Young people are interested in this election because they feel like they can finally change something with the government," said Derek Freitas, 24, from Rhode Island. He is voting in his second presidential election. Freitas told Scholastic News he quit his job over a month ago and is living off of his savings so that he can travel to important primary states to help with the Obama campaign. In the past month, he has been to Nevada, California, South Carolina, and Kansas.

Other people at the event were high school students like Chris Stack, 17, from Rockville, Maryland. This will be his first time voting in a presidential election. He says that it is important for young people to be interested in presidential elections because the outcome will affect their future.

This was a major theme of Senator Obama's speech when he finally appeared onstage. He also spoke about the importance of public education in creating well-rounded students.

"As well as teaching science and math, I want our teachers teaching art and music," he said.

One thing that seems to have made the Senator so popular among young people is his infectious energy and enthusiasm. The University of Maryland women's basketball team came into the stadium to hear the Senator's speech. He immediately pointed them out to the crowd, joking that he wished he had time to suit up and play a little basketball with them.

Then the Senator got right back to talking to the crowd about foreign policy and his vision for how America would interact with both friends and enemies around the world—until someone shouted, "We love you, Barack!" and he responded, "I love you back!"

Young people can make a difference, he told the crowd, but not everyone there was a young person or a student. Among supporters at the event was Donna Edwards, a candidate running against U.S. Representative Albert
Wynn, who has been representing a Maryland congressional district since 1982.

"He believes, and I agree with him, that it is time for us to get out of Iraq and have a government made up of real people," she said when asked why she supported Obama. "He has also generated so much energy, making people feel a lot younger than they really are."Check back later for results from Tuesday's primaries. The latest closing of the polls among the three areas voting is 8 p.m.

ELECTION 2008

Check back often to get the latest news from the campaign trail, as the Scholastic Kids Press Corps continues to follow the candidates around the country.

About the Author

Madison Hartke-Weber is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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