Emily Glaser, For The Miami Student

Primary season is heating up and one thing is clear: it is a tight race. Miami University students have various opinions on the four remaining GOP candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich.

Chelsea Kiene, communications chair for College Democrats, outlined the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

“Romney, who was initially assumed to win, definitely has the managerial experience under his belt being a former governor,” Kiene said. “Former governors often make good presidents. But a major weakness is the thing with healthcare. A lot of Obama’s healthcare plan is based off Romney’s.”

Kiene said a weakness of Santorum’s is he has not talked much about the economy, though some would consider his strong stance on social issues a strength. Gingrich has a wealth of experience and did a lot of work as Speaker of the House, but people question his moral character, Kiene said.

While Ron Paul is not expected to win, he is admired for his consistency and although he has a small base, the base he does have is very loyal, Kiene said.

Briana Sakach, co-chair of College Republicans, agrees with Kiene that each candidate has pros and cons and she personally endorses Mitt Romney.

“I feel that [Romney] can carry out the conservative ideals that I’m looking for in a presidential candidate to beat Barack Obama,” Sakach said.

While Sakach and her co-chair both personally endorse Romney, she said the College Republicans would not endorse a candidate as an organization so as not to speak on behalf of everyone in the group.

Sakach and Kiene agree that whoever gets the nomination should focus on jobs and the economy, both issues people will vote on.

Junior Eric Kellett said he identifies himself as an independent, and he agrees that candidates should focus more on fiscal issues than social issues. He endorses Ron Paul.

“I think Ron Paul would be the best candidate because he is the only person who might offer a firm stance on the issues, rather than cave into the pressures of his campaign donors and lobbyists,” Kellett said.

Kellett said he would like to see other issues discussed in the debates.

“Some of the debates really frustrate me,” Kellett said. “Instead of talking about foreign affairs, they will discuss gay marriage, something that’s usually left up to state legislators.”

Whether Democrat, Republican or independent, Kellett, Kiene and Sakach agree that this year’s primaries have been fiercer than usual and individual votes are counting more than ever.

“I find it interesting how much conservatives are attacking other conservatives,” Sakach said. “I think it is a lot more intense than it has been in the past.”

Kiene cautioned students to look beyond attack ads and focus on issues.

“Do your own research about the candidates,” Kiene said. “I encourage students to talk with their friends, but in the end you have to pick the person that most closely aligns with your views.”