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Citizens Name Economy as Top Priority for Inaugural Address, War, Healthcare as Other Top Issues

By Christina Edwards

Credit BarackObama.com

Credit BarackObama.com

December 11, 2008

Hundreds of thousands of people crowded in Grant Park in Chicago on November 4 as the new President-Elect Barack Obama spoke to address his win and the work that needs to be done in his coming term as president. Similar scenes were echoed across the nation: crowds gathered, cheering and pressing against the White House fence, people gathered in Times Square, pouring out into neighboring streets, students at Elon University gathered in Young Commons, circling up and holding hands to sing the national anthem.

“I almost cried a little when Obama spoke,” said Caitie Zavila, a sophomore at Georgetown University who said she watched Obama speak with her classmates, then headed over to join the crowd at the White House.

On election night, chants of “yes we can” melded into new chants of “yes we did.” And on January 20, Obama’s term begins and he will again address the American people about their future at his inauguration. In his inaugural speech, citizens would like him to exactly what exactly it is that “we’ve” done in terms of the economy, war, and healthcare.

The Economy and Bailouts: He’s Got Some Explaining to Do

The current economic crisis is almost unanimously the top issue for U.S. citizens. Obama addressed the crisis in a radio address on December 6, calling attention to November as the worst month of job loss in over three decades. He began to announce key parts of his economic plan, which citizens say they would like to hear in more detail in his Inaugural Address—along with explanations for the bailout trend.

In September, federal bailouts hit the forefront of the economic crisis when Federal Reserve chairmen Ben Bernanke proposed a plan for a $700 billion bailout of U.S. financial firms. In the past month, Congress has been discussing a similar bailout of the automotive industry.

“We have these bailout plans for Wall Street and the automotive industry, but I think we need a bailout for Americans in general,” said Robin Riggins, who works in the admissions office at Elon University. Riggins says she thinks a bailout for the average American would be more proficient than the proposed auto bailout.

“We need to help people be able to pay their mortgages, for people who are unemployed because of the crisis not to be have to sacrifice their livelihood,” said Riggins. “If we’re bailing them out, the money will go back into the economy. We’re going to bailout the automotive industry when we can’t afford to buy cars. I want him to address the bailouts and what it’s going to mean for us.”

Sonja Hopkins, who works at the Kangaroo Express near Elon University agrees.

“He needs to talk about the economy in general. Nothing really specific, but I want him to be talking about the economy,” Hopkins said.

Rudy Zarzar, Professor of political science at Elon University said that with the government openly saying that the economy is in a recession, there is no way that Obama’s speech will not heavily focus on the economy.

“He will primary focus on the economy. I don’t see how he can ignore it, he’d be a fool if he did,” Zarzar said. “We already had a fool in the White House, we don’t need another one.”

War and the Military

Another top concern many would like Obama to address is the war in Iraq, which Obama adamantly professed plans for pulling out of during the campaign.

“I’m concerned about the war,” said Terri Martin, contract administrator at Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. “He’s said we’re going to pull out of Iraq, but we need to know that we’re not going to just go straight to Afghanistan.”

Makaila McKinely, a junior at Elon University, said that she is primarily concerned with Obama’s views on the military.

“My dad was in the Navy, so I’m really concerned with what he’s going to do with the military,” McKinely said. “I didn’t vote for him because he was so against the military; I’m concerned about retirement benefits for my dad. I’m concerned about the war in Iraq and hope we’re not just going to surrender like he’s said he would. I think he’s going to have a tough battle to fight. He’s going to have to prove he’s good for America, which is going to be tough because basically half of American voted for McCain.”

Healthcare and the Government’s Role

According to Zarzar, Obama needs to put his secondary focus on healthcare, which Zarzar says is inexplicably tied to the economy.

“No American should find himself or herself in a situation where they can’t afford healthcare because they don’t have the means,” said Zarzar. “I don’t really care what it is, we need to have it. A system must be created to enable people who can’t afford medical care to have it.”

While others can agree that healthcare is a major issue, some expressed more concern than Zarzar over the actual details of a heathcare plan.

“I’m concerned about healthcare, of course, because I’m working in a healthcare related job,” said Martin. Concerned has been raised among employees at Memorial Mission Hospital about job retention under Obama’s healthcare plan.

Looking to the Future

What is important beyond the actual topics of the address, citizen say, is the tone Obama sets for the next four years.

“I really think the most important thing he needs to address is that we all need to work together,” said Martin.” “It’s no longer political. It’s not about whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat anymore, it’s about all of us.”

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Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s, and others provide incentive for voting

Companies provide incentive to get out the vote

By Christina Edwards

November 4, 2008

Courtesy my.barackobama.com

Courtesy my.barackobama.com

This election, exercising your right to vote can earn you the right to free food and beverages.

On November 4, participating Starbucks stores offered a free 12 oz. coffee to anyone who voted. According to Kaleigh Plumb, a worker at the Burlington Square Mall store, this incentive has proved popular: business doubled throughout the day.

“We’ve had a really good turn out,” said Plumb. “I didn’t personally expect it, because we didn’t really advertise for very long. But I guess people saw it and talked about it.”

In addition to Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s, Krispy Kreme, and Shane’s Rib Shack also offered free merchandise for election day, though these establishments did not require customers to vote first.

Shane’s Rib Shack’s election day promotion gave away orders of free chicken tenders to the first 300 customers. A manager at the Alamance Crossing store declined to speak about the decision for the promotion.

Krispy Kreme’s 85 company-owned stores gave away star shaped donuts, and encouraged its 145 franchises to do the same.

Ben and Jerry’s offered free scoops of ice cream between 5-8 p.m. to any customer at participating stores. The company also launched a Facebook event to advertise the promotion, as well as a section of their website called I Voted.

“Starbucks likes to take part in doing good things for the community and the country,” said Plumb. “Our company is very involved in everything, I think we just wanted to encourage people to go out and vote.”

Ben and Jerry’s “I Voted” Site

Starbucks Election Day Ad.

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Sarah Palin visits Elon, students wonder why university was chosen

Elon provides central location for high interest in Palin
By Christina Edwards
October 16, 2008

Ticket given for admission to Palin rally.

Ticket given for admission to Palin rally.

It was the campaign stop that launched a thousand questions.

Elon University announced Monday morning on the school’s Web site that GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin would be speaking on campus Thursday afternoon. Before tickets became avaliable Tuesday at noon, student attention had veered away from midterms and fall break planning to distinctly more political conversation: Where do I get tickets? Is she really coming? Do you think my professor will cancel class?

And a less easily answered question: why Elon?

“Why not?” said Mario Diaz, regional communications director for the McCain campaign. “It’s a beautiful area of North Carolina, and there’s a great amount of interest in [Palin] there. I’m glad we could accommodate supporters in that area.”

After scouting the campus last week, the campaign chose to hold the Road to Victory event at Latham Park in the North Athletics Complex.

“Honestly, I think it was partly because [Elon] has the baseball field; it was a great location. And it’s centrally located for the folks in Raleigh, High Point, Greensboro and Winston-Salem,” said David Ruden, spokesman at the Guilford-High Point Victory office.

The Elon College Republicans and students from the Elon law school provided a majority of volunteers for the event. Sophomore Nick Ochsner , president of the College Republicans, stressed the importance of having a strong campaign presence with only 19 days left to the election.

“We’ve been working with them all semester to help make sure Sen. McCain and the Republican Party has a strong presence on campus, and they knew they could turn to us for strong support,” said Ochsner.

The campaign contacted College Republicans to recruit volunteers for the event. Ochsner could not comment specifically on why Elon was chosen.

“In terms of campaign events and their relation to election day– we are not close by any means,” said Ochsner. “There are still three weeks left and a lot can happen in that time. It’s never too late for North Carolina voters to meet and get to know Sarah Palin and John McCain. As voters get to know them more today and in the next few weeks, they’ll quickly realize that the McCain-Palin ticket is the only ticket that will get America on the right track.”

Tickets were distributed to the outside community in several locations in the area, including local offices for the Republican Party.

“We had people lined up down the street,” said Ruden, commenting on the community’s interest in the event. “We had people from Asheville, Myrtle Beach, from as far as Atlanta. I’d say people in this area are more excited to see her than Obama, Biden, any other candidate.”

“We had a box full of tickets, and it was enough,” said Ruden. “But there was nothing left to get.”

Rep. Jim Cooper Visits Elon for Barack Obama

US House Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee visited Elon University October 10 to speak about Barack Obama and the importance of voting in the upcoming election. The event was held in the Zone in Moseley Center by Alamance County for Barack Obama. Rep. Cooper spoke of how he personally came to support Sen. Obama and the urgency of the current financial crisis. NC Senator Tony Foriest gave the opening remarks.