Nixon Fellows on the Campaign Trail

Monday, April 28, 2008

Five Whittier College students have been named 2008-09 Richard M. Nixon Fellows. As part of the fellowship the students will participate in internships, seminars and activities aimed at increasing their understanding of the political system and U.S. government. Political science majors Stephen Addezio '09 and Daniel Strauss '09 who will participate in the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, respectively, will be blogging about their experiences and observations before, during and after the conventions. 

The Whittier College Nixon Fellowship program is taking full advantage of the 2008 presidential election year to bring exciting new learning opportunities to five Whittier College students. This summer, two selected Nixon Fellows will attend the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Stephen Addezio '09 will attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, and Daniel Strauss '09 will attend the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Both will also take part in The Washington Center's National Political Convention Seminar. 

Elected Whittier College's student body president this past winter, Daniel Strauss '09 is already acquainted with political processes, but the political science major plans to significantly expand his knowledgebase by attending the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) in Minnesota. For his Nixon Fellowship project, Strauss will examine media coverage of issues, candidate activities, and party reaction leading up to the main event—the RNC. Specifically, he will keep a record of what the media chooses to omit from broad coverage, and then analyze potential reasons behind those choices. Attending the convention, then, will be part of that fieldwork.

"[As a whole,] I expect this convention is going to be very interesting because we're going to see a lot of ultra-conservatives starting to mingle more with moderate Republicans," says Strauss. 

When it comes to party politics, however, Strauss considers himself an Independent, but does admit he has been a fan of current Republican candidate John McCain for a number of years. 

"In 2000 McCain was my candidate, and it's nice to see him back in the ring," says Strauss, who also believes the Arizona senator can be an inspiration to young voters. "With the amount of youth in the military right now, McCain's own service [may resonate]. And, he is not afraid to take a stand for what he believes in."

And what political "celebrities" does Strauss hope to rub elbows with at the RNC? "I'd like to meet Joe Lieberman. Here is a career politician who crosses party boundaries as a Democratic-leaning Independent, and who is considered a 'hawk' in his foreign relations. And he lets nothing get in his way to hold office."

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"[With the nomination still undecided,] this convention is going to be completely different from the Republican's," believes Steven Addezio '09, the Nixon Fellow who will participate in the Democrats' Colorado assembly. A political science major, Addezio is a member of the student government senate and its former vice-president; he has also interned with a congressional campaign in his home state of New Jersey. 

"I'm excited because the candidate race looks like it's going to keep going a while, though maybe not all the way to the convention. But, I am paying attention to things now— making notes, collecting articles, and just kind of watching what is being said." He adds, "It's like a good football game—a nail-biter to the very end." 

"This race has drawn a lot of interest [because it is has no precedent], so a lot more people want to get involved in making the decision. People feel like it's going to matter this time," he says, "and therefore, it is starting to matter."

While he, like Strauss, is an avowed Independent, he also claims to be an avid Barak Obama supporter. "I just think there are a lot of people, centrists—moderate people—people who aren't quite Republican or quite Democrat, who like Obama's new ideas."

Addezio's Fellowship project will revolve around the activities of super-delegates at the convention: "The goal is to watch the behavior of the super-delegates to see who is going to switch sides, as well as why and when. Based on those results, I will then develop an analysis of how [these key players] behaved towards the end."

For his part, Addezio has a whole list of political bigwigs with whom he'd like to meet while at the convention, including New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, Massachusetts Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, as well as Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (a rumored VP pick for Obama).

To read the Fellow's blogs click here:

Steve Addezio -

Dan Strauss -