A Collegiate Front Seat to History

Greg Boguslavsky tries to maintain his cool as he navigates his way through Dartmouth College's Alumni Hall.

The New Jersey native has just been told there aren't enough chairs in the VIP section for the town hall meeting with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the wife of Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., doesn't have a seat.

With a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in one hand and a cell phone in the other, Boguslavsky has a word with a fellow student, and, moments later, more chairs are brought in.

Crisis avoided, Boguslavsky can now prepare himself for the event everyone has gathered for on a cold night in Hanover, N.H. It's a chance to hear from McCain in an informal setting and the opportunity to ask him questions directly.

Boguslavsky is the state chairman of the New Hampshire College Republicans, and at just 20 years old, he's met more presidential candidates in the last year than most people will meet throughout their lives.

"Voters in New Hampshire are used to a lot of attention from presidential candidates," he said.

"They really have their questions answered — get to know people who are running for office. So, I do think that New Hampshire's unique role does play a big part in all the activity we get [at Dartmouth]."

Activity is putting it mildly. In May, Boguslavsky met Mike Huckabee at a house party, and spent time with Rudy Giuliani on his campaign bus.

The Dartmouth College Republicans were busy throughout the summer. Boguslavsky and his fellow students met up with Duncan Hunter and Mitt Romney at a New Hampshire GOP Gala in June, Sam Brownback at the College National Republican Convention in July, and with Ron Paul on campus in September.

At events across the state, Boguslavsky has met every Republican front-runner in the 2008 race, and he has the pictures to prove it.

"My family thinks it's pretty cool," he laughed. "We don't really get this kind of political activity in New Jersey."

As a college student in New Hampshire, Boguslavsky acknowledges that he is uniquely positioned.

Presidential hopefuls from both parties spend a lot of time in New Hampshire in preparation for the country's first primary, coming up on Jan. 8.

Prior to the town hall meeting, McCain had another event in nearby Lebanon, N.H., where Boguslavsky met up with the senator to ride from Lebanon to Hanover and interview him for a student paper, the Dartmouth Review.

The Straight Talk Express experienced some mechanical difficulties, so McCain, Boguslavsky, and a few members of the press boarded a van, instead.

During the 30-minute ride, Boguslavsky had unfettered access to the senator, and he wasn't shy about asking a few candid questions — everything from McCain's favorite music (Roy Orbison and the Beatles), to what historical figure he'd like to have dinner with (Abraham Lincoln.)

"I thought it was very cool that he's very honest, shoots straight from the hip, and really cares about what he's doing," Boguslavsky observed.

Boguslavsky also asked what McCain thinks about the differences between their generations, since many have accused today's youth of being disengaged, in comparison with the youth of the Vietnam era.

McCain happily responded. "This might surprise you a little," McCain began. "But I think your generation is more patriotic and more willing to serve a greater cause than yourselves, than my generation was.

"I have great confidence in the future of America, because I have great confidence in the present young generation," said McCain.

Boguslavsky represents a part of the younger generation that McCain has confidence in. He won't reveal who his favorite candidate is just yet, and says he thinks he's seen a variety of support among students for multiple candidates.

"Mayor Giuliani seems to have a good level of support, based on his policies," Boguslavsky said. "McCain is an undeniable American hero, and I think a lot of students are attracted to that. ... You know, Congressman [Ron] Paul has a lot of traction among younger voters. So, it's hard to say."

Boguslavsky will be behind whichever candidate is selected as the Republican nominee, and hopes that whoever the candidates are on both sides, they will be able to change the country for the better.

"I really hope that both parties select nominees that represent the parties' views, the parties' beliefs," he said. "And I hope that the American people will select, and elect a president who will take this country forward in a positive direction."