Eagle County: President doesn’t have to be computer whiz | VailDaily.com

Eagle County: President doesn’t have to be computer whiz

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The fact that presidential candidate John McCain confessed to being computer “illiterate,” doesn’t bother some local voters.

“Honestly, it makes no difference to me if he knows how to turn a computer on or not,” said Matt Propst. “And I hope (voters) would realize, it’s not an education in technology we’re looking for.”

The 71-year-old Republican candidate has gotten criticism, especially on blogs and online publications, about his lack of tech savvy.

Critics point to an online video clip where McCain admits to being “a (computer) illiterate (who) has to rely on my wife for all the assistance I can get.”

In a recent New York Times interview, he also told the paper that his aides and wife get on the computer and find the information for him to read, but he’s learning to be able to find the information himself.

“I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail,” said McCain, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Barack Obama announced his pick for vice-president via text message and has been known to be on his Blackberry every 7 seconds, reported politico.com, a political news organization.

Still, some Eagle County residents agree with Propst that they are not basing their votes on the candidate’s computer literacy, even though many said they get most of their news and candidate exposure from online sources.

Everyone should learn to use a computer, said Eagle-Vail resident Mary Blair, but the fact that McCain can’t doesn’t make him less qualified to be president.

He has staff and aides who can help him with that, she said.

Leadville resident Melissa Kirr said she sees McCain’s computer illiteracy as more of a generational divide, not something that indicates close-mindedness or an inability to lead.

“It doesn’t surprise me that an older candidate doesn’t find that technology is easy,” she said.

“But he should know how to e-mail,” she added.

Beaver Creek resident Chip Craft said he can see how McCain might look antiquated next to Obama, but it doesn’t bother him.

“I can probably see how he’s not as good on a Blackberry or an iPhone, but that doesn’t surprise me,” he said.

However, McCain’s technological shortfalls could alienate him from some voters, residents said.

Eagle-Vail resident David Walder said that while he doesn’t think McCain is any worse of a communicator or less qualified to be a president, his lack of tech savvy may end up being a disadvantage for him.

“Technology is huge,” he said. “There’s a whole group of voters, anyone under 30, and that’s how you reach them.”

Walder said most of his news and exposure to the candidates is via satellite radio or the internet.

Some said they’ve noticed an increased use of online campaigning this election.

“Candidates have been more focused on online ads,” said Propst. “It seems the online ads are more what the candidates are about, and the TV ads are more for taking bites out of each other.”

Avon resident Dave Collins said he’s not too tech savvy himself, so he doesn’t judge McCain. However, that might be important to other voters, he said.

“For other people, they might think that you need to know how to use a computer if you’re going to be president,” he said.

It’s a sentiment he thinks Obama has tapped in to, Collins said.

“Obama send a text message to announce his vice-president pick, and he could have done that on a stage,” he said. “If it wasn’t important, he would have done it differently. He’s acknowledging that technology is important, too.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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