Presidential interview brings focus closer to home

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    By Kristen Byram

    In his new book “Family”s First,” television celebrity Dr. Phil McGraw reveals the importance of strong family ties in the life of a presidential candidate.

    According to Chandler Hayes, spokesman for Dr. Phil, McGraw and his wife Robin interviewed President Bush and Laura and also Senator Kerry and wife Teresa. Hayes said the interview centered on families and that McGraw avoided political questions regarding agendas and stances on particular issues.

    “It was two sets of parents opening up to each other about family and how important it was to teach of them,” Hayes said.

    Because Bush and Kerry were raised in different circumstances, it allowed the interview to take on two perspectives.

    “Senator Kerry is from a blended family, so Phil talked a little bit about the challenges there is in trying to merge the two families into one,” Hayes said. “President Bush and Laura were forthcoming, talking about the pressures of being in the public life.”

    According to Dr. Robert Goss of BYU”s Political Science Department, voters should be educated on both candidates” political agendas as well as their values.

    Goss said the United States is unique from other countries because there is no separation between a dignitary who leads morally and politically.

    “It is important that we have a president that embodies values as well as a person that is the commander and chief of other roles,” Goss said.

    Goss does not stand alone in his viewpoint.

    “We should pray for candidates who do not desire desperately to win, and who have some guiding principles that do not change with the polls,” said Dr. Ralph Hancock of BYU”s Political Science Department.

    Hancock also said a candidate”s moral orientation is by no means irrelevant to public policy.

    BYU Republican Club President, Josh Daniels, also agreed students should be educated on many planes when going to the polls. He said they should not only understand current events, policies and crises but should also have a general understanding of the character and the people the president works with.

    “The buck may stop at George Bush”s desk but there are plenty of people around him who make decisions everyday that mean something,” Daniels said. “When it comes to their family and personal background you should just pay attention to how they are as people and the things they focus on.”

    Daniels said in the 2000 election the overall conduct of George Bush influenced his vote. He recalled an instance where before a debate Bush repeatedly commented on his family, how much he loved his wife and the role religion had played in shaping his character.

    “He was so much more real,” Daniels said. “He was a family man and that meant a lot to me personally.”

    Daniels said even though he didn”t agree on all of the Bush”s policies he still saw him as a moral man who shared some of the same principles as he did.

    However, the president”s life outside of the office is irrelevant for some Americans.

    “We call the President ”Mr. President” because he fills the role of an office, not a person,” said Margaret Olsen, president of BYU Democrats.

    Olsen said in an ideal world a president would base decisions on what would produce the best for the country and represent the people rather than on his own convictions.

    Olsen also said voters should be aware of all sides of the issues when voting.

    “It is disrespectful to our ancestors who suffered and worked for democracy and the right to vote if you vote blindly,” Olsen said.

    She said the citizens” obligation is to become educated on both candidates and issues.

    Goss also said voters should remember candidates make mistakes.

    “We act as voters with both our heads and our hearts,” Goss said. “They are not going to be perfect, they are imperfect human beings as we are. Be persuaded that the choice you make will be for what”s right in the circumstances presented in the next four years, and that their families will be representative of us as well.”

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