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Q&A With UNH Political Science Student Tyler McAfee

By Lori Wright, Media Relations
July 6, 2011

Tyler McAfee, a sophomore at UNH studying political science, was interviewed by CNN as part of its coverage of New Hampshire’s first nationally televised GOP Primary debate Monday, June 13, 2011. A member of the UNH College Republicans, McAfee first became involved in presidential politics as a volunteer for John McCain’s primary and presidential campaigns when he was 15 years old. We were curious about McAfee’s CNN experience and what issues are important to college students. Here’s what he had to say.

What was it like to be interviewed on live television?

It was very interesting to see the behind-the-scenes aspect of live television. There is an immense amount of work that goes into the interviews and all of it. I had to do a 15-minute phone call interview the night before in preparation for the live interview. It definitely seemed easier for me speaking on television rather than in front of a crowd because you are only speaking to one person. You can only see the camera and the interviewer even though the audience is much bigger than a crowd.

How were you selected by CNN?

I co-founded the NH Conservative Future PAC with Chris Crawford, and we had our kickoff event at Greeley Park in Nashua on June 5, which received quite a bit of press coverage. I’m not entirely sure how I was selected, but I’m assuming that WMUR recommended me to CNN after the event.

 What do you believe are the most significant political issues to college students?

The economy is the most important issue for college students. I think the perception of college students is that we are very idealistic and lofty and therefore only care about social issues, but in this political climate, college students can very easily see what 9.1 percent unemployment means for us. It means that there aren’t going to be jobs just waiting for us after graduation.

There also is the issue of the debt, which is so huge that it quickly becomes incomprehensible. How can we even begin to imagine 14.3 trillion dollars? Young people and college students are beginning to realize that this monstrosity is going to be left to us. Our parents accumulated the bill, and college students and young people see that it’s ours to pay off. We have a tab that is more than the size of our economy, and it gets bigger when we account for interest on that debt. Young people can see this, and we don’t want our future being sacrificed for the present.

Cultural issues often are part of the political discourse during elections. What cultural issues do you believe are important to young people your age this election cycle?

Gay marriage and abortion are probably the most important cultural issues for young people. As young people tend to be more progressive when it comes to cultural issues, we view gay marriage as a struggle for rights. College students and young people are very cohesive when it comes to gay marriage, as opposed to abortion. I myself am pro-life, and there is a divide among young people when it comes to this issue that isn’t easy to reconcile, and because of that divide within the young electorate, it is difficult to comment on abortion in regard to young people. The economic situation of America is going to supersede cultural issues in this election cycle. Cultural issues are important, but in the end, Americans have always voted with their wallets first and foremost.

What are your plans for the fall in terms of being involved in a political campaign? Have you picked a candidate to support?

I probably will not be involved in a presidential campaign in the fall as I am not really fired up about any of the candidates so far, but I probably will volunteer during the general election. If the primary were tomorrow, I probably would vote for Newt Gingrich. He impressed me the most during the Republican debate, but it is still so early that I can’t really say definitively who my candidate is. I’m the stereotypical New Hampshire voter waiting to meet each candidate before I make my decision. I co-founded the NH Conservative Future PAC so most of my efforts will be directed there in gaining support and raising our profile, because we are a small group run exclusively by young people in college and high school. There isn’t another organization like us in the state, and we had an extremely encouraging response at our event a couple weeks ago.

UNH students have a great opportunity to be involved in the political process because of our state’s First-in-the-Nation Primary. What would you say to your peers to encourage them to become involved?

New Hampshire really is special. We are such a small state, but we carry such great importance when it comes to electing presidents. I think that this is sometimes lost on young people and taken for granted. Young people in New Hampshire have a unique opportunity to influence the course of politics in America and be a voice for people our age across the country. I would say to all young people that we need to become active in politics now. It isn’t enough to say, “Oh I’ll vote and get involved when I have a stake in the elections,” because our future is being decided now. We need to make our voices heard in the decisions that will shape the next century.


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