A group of Eastern Kentucky University political science students will not be in the classroom today. They left at 8 a.m. for South Carolina where they will be immersed in political reality.

The 22 students will be volunteering for one of the three candidates in the Democratic Primary, helping the state party organization stage a Friday night rally or simply observing and writing reports,” said EKU professor Dr. Kendra Stewart.

The students will be sending daily updates about their activities and observations, which will be published in the Richmond Register.

Nine students will be knocking on doors, making phone calls or doing other chores for the campaign of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Three will be working for John Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, while two will be helping New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“The students were free to pick which campaign they wanted to help,” Stewart said.

Four other students will help set up the election-eve rally at which all three candidates will appear, while four will stand back and observe.

Most of the students are from Kentucky, including three from Richmond, but a few are from Ohio.

“I chose the South Carolina primaries last semester, because they were scheduled early in the nominating process,” Stewart said. “South Carolina wasn’t too far away, and its primaries didn’t coincide with any other states’.”

The class had planned to cover South Carolina’s Republican primary also, but the state organization moved the GOP primary to Jan. 19.

Stewart considered involving her students in the Tennessee primary on Feb. 5, but chose South Carolina because she viewed it as a “cornerstone” southern state. Also, Feb. 5 has been dubbed “Super Tuesday,” because 20 other states, including New York and California, the two largest, will have primaries that day. “There won’t be much focus on Tennessee that day,” she said.

Stewart also consulted with Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, and the staff of U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., as she planned her course, “The American Chief Executive.”

“I think this trip will provide my students to learn things about the political process that I could never teach them,” Stewart said.

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@richmondregister.com or at 623-1669, Ext. 267.

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