TRUMBULL COUNTY Young cousins form a political base

An encounter with John Edwards has two youths engaging in political rhetoric.
NILES -- For two young Niles boys, the presidential race is becoming personal.
Anthony Howe, 11, and his cousin, 10-year-old Christian Huffman, are paying close attention to politics these days, as their "friend" Sen. John Edwards has a chance to become the next vice president of the United States.
The two admit they didn't know much about Edwards until they got a chance to meet him and pose for pictures last winter.
Howe and Huffman were among hundreds who stood in the cold in February outside the RMI Titanium plant on Warren Avenue for a chance to see Edwards and other Democrats.
Reasons for going
"I wanted to meet [U.S. Rep.] Tim Ryan and say hi to him," Huffman said of his reasons for braving the elements that day.
His cousin, however, had a different reason for being there.
"I wanted to be in the news," he said. "I want to be famous."
But after hobnobbing with Edwards, Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd, the boys are starting to take an interest in politics -- even learning the differences between a Republican and a Democrat.
"A Democrat is someone who tries to run for president," explained Huffman, who will enter the fourth grade at Bonham Elementary this fall. "They are the people who run for mayor and council and stuff like that."
Howe, who will start the fifth grade at Washington Elementary, has a slightly different take on the differences, citing the donkey and the elephant mascots, as well as stressing that "Republicans are the people who vote for people."
And while neither Howe nor Huffman is old enough to vote, both take their time before answering who they would choose if given the opportunity.
"That's a hard decision," mused Huffman.
The verdict
But after a brief consultation with one another, the cousins decide they would vote for Sen. John Kerry and Edwards. With carefully chosen words, the boys justified their decision, saying, "Democrats are soft on taxes and high on defenses."
In addition to following this year's elections, the cousins are also planning for futures in politics, both admitting they would like to serve as president someday.
Their platforms? Howe pledged to make every school day early dismissal and to ensure no one pays taxes on toys, while Huffman pledged no new taxes and no war.
"Oh, and I would give everyone free money," he added.

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