Sincerity counts. And from the sounds of what a handful of University of New Hampshire students had to say after the first MTV/MySpace presidential forum with John Edwards on Thursday (September 27), they felt like the former senator was talking straight.
"It's the first time I really heard him talk and I thought it was great, because he wasn't someone I was even considering voting for," said Evin Baird, 18, an English/music major from Nashua, New Hampshire. "He was very un-dodgy and seemed honest. I was surprised with how well he answered the questions, especially on health care and Iraq."
Baird said he didn't necessarily agree with Edwards on why we need to bring troops home now — Edwards said combat troops should come home, but other soldiers should be left behind to help guard embassies and other installations (as the U.S. does in other nations, such as Japan) — but he was really impressed with the "kick-ass" instant-polling aspect of the forum and said he would definitely look into Edwards more seriously.
Freshman Joelle Calcavecchia, 18, a political-science major, felt like Edwards was definitely talking to the assembled students on their level and that his sincerity, and the intimacy of the small-room forum, helped Edwards connect with the crowd (see "John Edwards MTV/MySpace Dialogue: The View From The Bleachers"). "I liked how he carried himself," said the self-described Republican. "I've seen Rudy Giuliani, and I thought [Edwards] was more articulate."
Phillip Parker, 18, was planning to ask about Edwards' view on same-sex marriage but he wasn't able to get his query in during the live event. "I'm not that into politics, but since I'm 18, now I feel like it's time to step up. And I really liked what he said, especially on universal health care, since a lot of my family don't have health care." Parker especially liked how Edwards personalized his answers and put a bit of himself into his responses.
Emily Dilorenzo, 19, did get to ask Edwards a question about the lack of funding for the musical arts. The psychology major and music minor from Derry, New Hampshire, said Edwards did "pretty well" answering her question on what he would do to level the playing field in terms of funding for sports versus the lack of money for the arts. "I wanted more concrete answers, but I thought it was very cool that he addressed it, and I liked how they used MySpace to get more questions in."
Though she suspected some of the students showed up because they were drawn by the MTV brand and the lure of possibly being on television, Dilorenzo said Edwards' casual style helped him bond with the students — and not come off like a typical politician. "I tend to be a Republican, but I definitely think he made me consider things from both sides."