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Paul is kids' choice in presidential straw poll

Union Leader Correspondent

November 17. 2011 7:16PM
Gov. John Lynch addresses elementary schoolers at St. Anselm College after they cast votes in a straw poll for President. Simon Rios 

GOFFSTOWN - If it were up to the 250 boys and girls who bused into Saint Anselm College on Thursday to take part in a straw poll, Texas Rep. Ron Paul would have taken the presidency by leaps and bounds over Democratic incumbent Barack Obama.

In fact, Obama came in 5th, with Michelle Bachman in 2nd, Herman Cain in 3rd, and Mitt Romney in 4th place.

Lily O'Connell, 11, a 6th grader at St. Catherine School in Manchester, explained why she cast a vote for the incumbent President.

'My family is leading towards Democratic people, and I think that some of the people on the Republican side won't do as well as Barack Obama,' she said. 'He is trying to get more jobs, and he's trying to have better health care and lower taxes.'

Sophia Ferro, same age, same grade, same class as O'Connell, voted GOP: 'I voted for Mitt Romney because .... I think that he could do a really good job at funding people so they could provide a house or food for their family.'

Gov. John Lynch headlined the event for elementary school kids, which was moderated by WMUR anchor Tom Griffith and featured N.H. Secretary of State Bill Gardner.

'Remember, there is no right or wrong answer in who you select,' said Griffith. 'You as the next generation of voters will have that same opportunity, and that same responsibility to look over the candidates and make educated decisions about who you think would be the best.'

Lynch spoke to the importance of the New Hampshire primary, saying that in other states people only see the candidates on television or at super-sized events. 'In New Hampshire you get to meet them in small groups, and I'm convinced it makes (them) better candidates. I'm also convinced it makes them better presidents, because it forces them to connect with real people.'

Gardner quizzed the students on a series of questions related to the first-in-the-nation primary the Granite State enjoys.

He explained that New Hampshire became first in nation primary in 1920, though the first primary was held here in 1916. 'We created a primary because one person said, 'you know why is it that all the big shots are making the decisions? Why can't I have the chance to be a delegate to go to a national convention?'' Gardner said this small farmer from Richmond then wrote the legislation for to establish a primary in New Hampshire, and it was passed in 1913.

The event was organized by the New Hampshire Political Library and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Ben Houle, a junior at Saint Anselm and one of the organizers of the event, said 'it's good to get that perspective because they are the future.'

Jacob Lear, a fifth-grader from Barka elementary, voted for the winning candidate because of his stance on the wars. He said his family voted for Ron Paul and they did it for the same reason.

'I wanted to have the peace,' Lear said.

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