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Election campaigns get up-close and personal

I wrote for my high school’s newspaper for three years and then a year for The Horizon, the Indiana University Southeast newspaper, as both a reporter and an assistant editor.
I’ve written about many things during my time on both newspapers and have even written many articles in the six weeks I’ve spent so far working for The Corydon Democrat.
However, I had never really covered state and national elections before I started working here. Baron Hill spoke on the IUS campus in the fall of 2005 to college Democrats. He announced plans for a 2006 run. I was there to cover it for the newspaper and was surprised when he spoke to me for a good five minutes after the event, despite having to move on to another event. I was surprised that a congressional candidate would take the time out of his busy schedule to talk to a college newspaper’s reporter.
However, the past six weeks have presented me with a new set of experiences, and believe me, the weeks have moved quickly. I haven’t really had a chance to reflect.
During the past six weeks, I’ve interviewed four candidates for South Harrison Community School Corp. school board, two candidates for Harrison County Auditor and two candidates for the Indiana State Senate.
I’ve attended rallies for both Hill and Mike Sodrel, and I’ve seen many candidates try to gain last- minute favor with voters by walking in a parade. I’ve seen at least a hundred yard signs and hundreds of political ads, most of which have been negative. I’ve watched candidates speak to a high school classroom to try to persuade 18-year-olds to vote for them.
From covering the election this year, I have certainly found myself more prepared to vote. I know the issues. I’ve been present for many interviews and given many myself.
Many people I have interviewed impressed me, but none quite so much as Richard Young, a candidate for Indiana State Senate. When I interviewed him, I saw a genuine compassion for Indiana and this district. Young is someone you can tell has participated in many interviews in his 18 years in office. He really knew his stuff, and more importantly, he seems to have kept to his roots. He seemed very much like an ordinary guy who simply cared, not some big shot senator.
I have also seen a politician who was not running for office, for himself anyway. This event is probably the biggest I covered during this year’s elections.
President George W. Bush came to speak at a Republican rally for Mike Sodrel in Sellersburg, and I got to be present on that historic day for Southern Indiana. To attend, my Social Security number, birthday, name and employer had to be faxed to the White House so I could obtain a special media pass.
That day, I, along with the Clarion News (our sister publication) staff Chris Adams and Lee Cable, drove to Sellersburg at 10 a.m. When we arrived, we had to pick up our media passes. Each of us had to pass through security.
As I walked through the security check, I had to empty my pockets and stand with my arms out and my legs apart while I was scanned for anything that might be hazardous to our president.
It was definitely an event. Though I was not as impressed with it as I should have been, it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime deal for most people to hear the president speak. Although I hope that is not the case for me.
The crowd surrounding the media area sure showed its enthusiasm. I, however, found myself less enthused when he started speaking because, as everyone who knows me knows I am not an avid supporter of President’s Bush’s ideology.
However, I know I am one of the few who can say they’ve seen the president speak in person even if he seemed like a regular guy to me. I was thinking the whole time I should have seen Bill Clinton when he was here. Still, it was a memorable event that I will always keep with me.
I think my favorite memory from the election this year was hearing Lee Hamilton speak at a very small rally at the Harrison County Court House. I had previously heard him speak in Bloomington, after the 9/11 Commission filed its report, about the findings. At the courthouse in Corydon, he still had the same commanding presence and is genuinely an excellent public speaker. I found myself feeling lucky that I got to hear him speak again.
One of the worst things I’ve seen this election are the negative TV commercials between Sodrel and Hill. It makes me hate to think of what this country is coming to when candidates won’t stand on the issues and their policy. I just hope that in the next election we see more informative campaign ads. However, we don’t know what the next election will bring.
I am writing this column before yesterday’s elections took place. So as I sit here, I do not know the outcome.
I do hope the election brings the change that I believe is desperately needed. I hope those elected will go to their respected posts and do everything they promised and more. Finally, I hope people went to the polls and voted their own minds.