Ignore Iowa. Never mind New Hampshire. The people have spoken, and the winner is -- Jack Kemp?
In a gathering replete with placards, straw hats and references to the "sovereign state of ," about 100 Loyola College students and professors met yesterday in a mock presidential convention. The 20-year-old Loyola tradition includes candidates of both parties.
After three hard-fought ballots, Mr. Kemp, a former congressman and housing secretary, was drafted as the Republican presidential nominee, holding off supporters of magazine publisher Steve Forbes. President Clinton earned enough support for his party's nod, and Loyola junior Christopher Voxakis, acting as a delegate from Maryland, championed sometime Democrat Lyndon LaRouche, but Republicans dominated the day.
In a speech nominating Mr. Kemp, Oregon delegate Diana J. Schaub -- a Loyola political science professor -- led the charge against the announced candidates, telling students that the nation needed "a statesman, not a demagogue."
Candidates like Sen. Bob Dole and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander gained a handful of votes. Dr. Schaub started her effort on behalf of Mr. Kemp to stop Patrick Buchanan, who briefly attracted the loyalty of a number of students. But it soon blossomed into a stop-Forbes drive.
On Sunday night, the Loyola chapter of the College Republicans met and threw its weight behind Mr. Forbes, largely because its members thought he might visit the campus in the fall if he won the Loyola vote. And that blatant opportunism led to a backlash against Mr. Forbes, even among some GOP faithful.
"They figure they'll get him to speak next year," said Thomas Corcoran, a writing major and Buchanan delegate representing the District of Columbia at the student-run convention.
Mr. Corcoran and others who ardently supported Mr. Buchanan switched their votes for a pledge from Dr. Schaub that the Kemp supporters would nominate their man for vice president.
(The professor later double-crossed her allies, successfully boosting Gen. Colin Powell, who took 65 percent of the vote for vice president. Mr. Buchanan secured only 22 percent.)
Dr. Schaub's maneuvering left her Republican antagonists grumbling good-naturedly that she was using more than political savvy to twist arms. "We've got a teacher out there supporting Kemp and guess what -- there are a lot of students here in her class," said Loyola sophomore Sergio Vitale, co-chairman of the College Republicans chapter.
In a striking move, on the second ballot, the delegates from Rhode Island and Massachusetts -- a group of elementary school students from the White Oak School in Baltimore County -- shifted their six votes from Democratic Senator Bob Kerry of Nebraska to Mr. Kemp. The students decided to shift because they did not like Mr. Forbes' attacks on Mr. Dole in TV advertisements, said fifth-grader Tony Smith, 10.
But the third ballot yielded the final results: Mr. Kemp, 51 percent of the vote; Mr. Forbes, 33 percent; Mr. Dole, 3 percent. Although Loyola tends to have a moderately conservative bent, then-Gov. Clinton won handily in 1992.
"Generation X does care about who they vote for president," Mr. Voxakis said. But, he conceded, its members were confused about who they want that to be.