05/06/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The McCain Youth Vote? Former Silicon Valley Exec Makes The Case

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and now the "victory chair" for the Republican National Committee and Sen. John McCain, swung through Seattle this week. As one of McCain's campaign surrogates, she is tasked with raising money for the RNC and getting the base fired up for the presidential election. On her way from a speech at Seattle Pacific University to the airport, she took the time to talk to me via cell phone about McCain and the youth vote.

In this year of Obamamania, the much-older McCain isn't the first choice among many of my peers at the University of Washington. But Fiorina said that her candidate can appeal to young voters. McCain's age could, in fact, be an asset, and not an obstacle, to his latent pitch to first-timer voters.

"Young people recognize and appreciate authenticity," she said. And while Obama's appeals for change and hope sound nice, Fiorina argued that young voters need to look closely at a candidate's background.

"Change takes hard work and lots of details," she said. "To drive change, you have to know how
to drive that change. You have to know where all the bodies are, so to speak," she said.

While she did acknowledge that the McCain campaign could do more to reach out and interact with college students, Fiorina was also quick to point to McCain's support of higher education. Specifically, he wants to use existing unemployment insurance programs to pay for training programs at community colleges for white-collar workers who lose their jobs. Although such a program is aimed at mostly older, returning students, Fiorina said that McCain has other initiatives aimed at new graduates, including government guarantees of student loans, a summer gas tax holiday and lower business taxes, which Fiorina said would encourage younger people to invest in small businesses.

Ultimately, she said the outcome of the election is very much in my generation's hands.

"The choices are real important and the choices are very clear," she said. "I think those choices are stark, and young people will have to live with the choices they'll make," she said.

For more original reporting from University of Washington students, live from the field, check out

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