Let the campaign name calling begin


    Let the mud slinging begin.

    Oh, wait. It’s already started.

    The presidential election has begun, nearly six months earlier than the traditional Labor Day kick off after the nominating conventions. Quite predictably, both candidates have not hesitated to rip each other to shreds.

    Bush and his surrogates are painting Sen. John Kerry as a Massachusetts liberal who wants to raise taxes, is weak on defense and flip flops his positions. The Kerry camp charges that Bush has bumbled the war on terrorism and mislead the nation on the Iraq war, the No Child Left Behind Act and the Medicare drug plan.

    Pretty stiff claims, and the barbs will only get thrown harder in what may prove to be the nastiest election in modern history. The president plans an advertising onslaught in key swing states, and Kerry hopes to raise enough money to counter the attack.

    For those with only a passing interest in politics, it will be hard to watch. It’s not hard to imagine people getting so fed up with the attacks that they tune out the election. Students should resist that temptation.

    These are two different candidates with sharply contrasting views and most people already know where they stand.

    The candidates’ differences will become apparent — if they aren’t already — in the debates, campaign events, advertising spots and media coverage in the coming months.

    A recent poll by USA Today shows that more than 80 percent of Americans already know who they are going to vote for in November.

    If you’re one of these people, don’t forget to vote.

    And if you’re unsure, pay attention; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.