Elections

Political Experts Tell SBU Honors Students They Have Not Seen Presidential Contest Like 2016's

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Buffalo News political writer Robert McCarthy (left) and former Niagara County Republican chair Henry Wojtaszek shared insights on the presidential campaign with St. Bonaventure University students.
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SAINT BONAVENTURE, NY—Even political veterans are unsure of what will happen in this year’s presidential elections.

“Anyone who tells you they can predict what will happen in the next four weeks is lying to you. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Henry F. Wojtaszek, former Niagara County Republican chairman, said.

Earlier in October, Wojtaszek, an attorney and president/CEO at Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation/Batavia Downs, and Robert J. McCarthy, political writer for the Buffalo News, spoke with students in Jandoli School of Communication Associate Professor Richard A. Lee’s Honors 299 course at St. Bonaventure University. The objective of the course is for students to follow and analyze media coverage of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Wojtaszek and McCarthy told the class that they believe that this election is one not like any other that they have experienced thus far.

When a student asked for McCarthy’s thoughts on the candidates, the 1976 St. Bonaventure journalism graduate replied, “People are committed to someone who is ready to turn Washington inside out. That is what distinguishes him [Trump] from the other candidates.”

“Be ready for anything.” Wojtaszek, who served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, added.

Students also wanted to know the speakers’ thoughts on Clinton’s and Trump’s reputations on social media. With millions of people faithfully using Twitter — Donald Trump being one of them — social media has become a prominent form of news reporting. And there have never been presidential candidates who have been as publicly and ethically criticized as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been.

McCarthy and Wojtaszek acknowledged that Clinton and Trump have been under a close microscope since the 2016 presidential U.S. elections began and that the Oct. 2 opening debate at Hofstra University brought forth negative backlash from both parties. Whether it was Clinton’s questioning of Trump’s history as a taxpayer situation or Trump’s questioning of Clinton’s handling of terrorism, both were very determined to bring the other down.

“This is Donald world, and we’ve seen it to a great degree,” McCarthy said.

Refusing to discuss his taxes and show whether or not he has paid them has been a major issue for Trump, McCarthy acknowledged.

“There is a possibility that he [Trump] hasn’t paid any taxes, and as Henry said, no one from his campaign has denied it.” Lee stated.

“He has a lot of work cut out for him to try and convince people to pay their taxes.” Wojtaszek added.

Along with the taxes issue, there has been great debate on the minimum wage increase.

McCarthy spoke about the issues regarding minimum wage and how it is really the core of any presidential campaign in several aspects. In any case, he states that it is essential to respond to those issues which have an effect on livelihoods -- issues people really care about.

“I think Trump is taking a different position on it,” Wojtaszek said. “What he’s trying to say now is that he’s clearly for an increase but it depends on the locality.”

People are turned off by the lack of promises and want answers, Wojtaszek added.

Both guest speakers said they believe this contest will progressively become even more interesting as Election Day gets closer.

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