Edward Rucinski
  • Glenmont, NY

Edward Rucinski of Glenmont Participates in Saint Michael's College J-Course Trip to NH Presidential Debates

2011 Oct 21

Edward Rucinski, son of Mary McLaughlin and Stephen Rucinski of Glenmont, spent two days on an educational bus trip across New Hampshire Oct. 10-11, engaging Republican presidential candidates and the working press as part of a Saint Michael's College "Media and Politics" class led by Professor David Mindich. Mindich was recently named New England Journalism Educator of the Year by the New England Press Association.

Rucinski, a first-year student exploratory major, graduated from Bethlehem Central High School before coming to Saint Michael's in Burlington, Vt., one of the top 10 college towns in America. He participated with classmates on Oct. 10 in Town-Meeting-style candidate events, first in Tilton, N.H., with Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China, and later in Hopkinton, N.H., with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor. The students also stopped at the Concord Monitor to hear how local pros cover the state's famous presidential primaries. At both Town Meeting events, students joined questioning of the candidates on issues such as funding to eradicate world AIDS (a subgroup of Saint Michael's students made that their priority) along with a full range of social, economic and foreign policy topics.

The following day, Oct. 11, they spent much of the day on Dartmouth College's buzzing central green, interacting with media, political activists and campaign workers readying for that evening's televised national debate on economic policy among the leading Republican candidates. The group heard from and questioned Carl Cameron, national political reporter for Fox News, followed by a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter and later Saint Michael's alumni Adam Silverman '00, a reporter for WCAX-TV in Burlington covering the event. That evening they joined Dartmouth and local high school students for a debate "viewing party" in a sports arena with big screens near the debate site. After the debate, national presidential candidates Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman came to the arena, spoke briefly and greeted the young crowd with handshakes and photo-ops. The entire trip, Mindich guided his students in thoughtful discussion about their first-hand experience of democracy in action.

Professor Mindich, NE Journalism Educator of the Year comments:

"Part of the trip is like throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks because you never know which candidates you're going to come in contact with, what will fall through at the last minute or what new opportunities will present themselves," said Mindich, who appreciated the "force of energy around an event like a debate that ensures you're going to talk with politicians and journalists, bloggers, debate-organizers and other students." He was "struck by the courage and clarity" of his students as they questioned candidates.

"What I've stressed in class is looking at the message candidates tell about themselves, the message that their rivals try to tell about them and the message that the media puts out," Mindich said. "I was excited that this was a trip in which liberal, moderate and conservative students were all able to express their opinions and feel like this was a safe place for people of all political persuasions to feel comfortable."

Learn What Matters at Saint Michael's College, The Edmundite Catholic liberal arts college, Saint Michael's provides education with a social conscience, producing graduates with the intellectual tools to lead successful, purposeful lives that will contribute to peace and justice in our world. Founded in 1904 by the Society of St. Edmund and headed by President John J. Neuhauser, Saint Michael's College is located three miles from Burlington, Vermont, one of America's top college towns. Identified by the Princeton Review as one of the nations Best 376 Colleges, and included in the 2012 Fiske Guide to Colleges, Saint Michael's has 1,900 undergraduate students and 500 graduate students. Saint Michael's students and professors have received Rhodes, Woodrow Wilson, Pickering, Guggenheim, Fulbright, and other grants. The college is one of the nation's top-100, Best Liberal Arts Colleges as listed in the 2012 U.S. News & World Report rankings.