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ELECTION 2004 XPRESS YOURSELF

Week 3: Does a candidate's appearance make a difference to you?

Does it matter what the candidates for president look like? According to some bay area students, it absolutely does. "Yes, their appearance would, because you can tell a lot about a person by the way they present themselves," said Kristin Britt, 17, a 12th-grader at St. Petersburg High. But not so fast, Joey Bariso said. "Who really cares about what they look like?" said Joe, a sixth-grader at River Ridge Middle in New Port Richey. "Appearances don't count . . . as long as they care for America." Though the majority of the students who answered the question said appearances don't matter, others said that we shouldn't fool ourselves, that the way candidates carry themselves and take care of themselves should be factors in whether they are able to lead the country.

Check out more student responses below. Members of the X-Team who asked the question and took photos of the students are Lauren Adams, Austin Arias, Traci Bexley, Sarah Collins, Anna Costello, Andrew DeLong, Alice Feigel, Rohini Komarla, Jane McInnis, Taylor Pashley, Krista Pontzer, Travis Radke, Sarah Tareco and Sarah Wilkerson.

"It is not their looks that matter; it is how they will run our country."

Heather Gentry, 14, ninth grade, Blake High, Tampa

"If they are really ugly or have a weird prominent feature, I'd be less likely to vote for them because that would be all I could focus on."

Elizabeth Garnett, 17, 12th grade, St. Petersburg High

"We should be voting based on how they will run our country and their goals for the future."

Alexis Williams, 15, 10th grade, St. Petersburg Catholic High

"I'd want them to be pleasant looking. If someone is offensive-looking . . . then you don't want to listen to or look at them. I don't want to associate with someone who is offensive-looking or wearing a crappy suit."

Dakota Cash, 17, 12th grade, River Ridge High, New Port Richey

"I do not think appearance is important. I feel that a person's character and their status on certain issues have a greater importance than what they look like."

Brandon Vinieratos, 17, 12th grade, St. Petersburg High

"It doesn't matter what they look like on the outside. It matters what is on the inside."

Brittany Casler, 11, sixth grade, Tarpon Springs Middle

"My first answer would be, no, of course (appearance doesn't matter), but then I think twice. Maybe it's that subconsciously I'm affected. We're raised to the fact that appearance doesn't matter, and that's why my first answer was no. It's definitely not a conscious decision where you say, "Well they're unattractive and short, so I wouldn't vote for them.' "

Gentry Mander, 17, 12th grade, Land O'Lakes High

"They just have to be smart and not a liar."

Emmanuel Kastrenakes, 13, seventh grade, St. Paul's School, Clearwater

"A candidate's appearance does have some effect on me; whether it is positive or negative, I don't know. I don't really look for physical attractiveness but more of how they carry themselves. If the candidate seems cocky or arrogant by the way they walk and talk, I am definitely turned off to them."

Jamie Knapp, 17, 12th grade, Plant High, Tampa

"It shouldn't be based on the candidate's appearance but their ability to run our country gracefully and with a clear mind."

Kirsten Hunt, 15, 10th grade, St. Petersburg Catholic High

"(Appearance) matters sometimes, and even though the candidates aren't very good looking, we shouldn't worry so much about what they look like. We should focus more on their ideas."

Shianna Jones, 16, 11th grade, Central High, Brooksville

"Well, yeah, I mean to some extent (appearance matters). What happens if we see George Bush all pimped out? What's that going to do for your opinion for the Republican Party?"

Dan Herron, 17, 12th grade, East Lake High

"The candidates do not need to be good-looking. The most important qualities of a president are intelligence and leadership."

Chelsea Licht, 15, 10th grade, Palm Harbor University High

"It doesn't matter what they look like, but I wouldn't vote for a bum off the street."

Dave Buric, 16, 11th grade, East Lake High

"If they have a beard, they kind of look like they have something to hide."

Adrienne Teigman, 17, 12th grade, St. Petersburg High

"I don't want a scary-looking guy running our country."

Kevin Pate, 12, eighth grade, John F. Kennedy Middle School, Clearwater

"I don't care about the way a person looks. John Kerry is not as weak as George Bush because he cares more about the world."

Tony Hester, 14, ninth grade, King High, Tampa

"If the guy or girl is old and ruggy and doesn't bathe or care what they look like, then yes (it matters). But if they're not in style or they're wearing a shirt not in style, then no."

Daniel McAuliffe, 8, third grade, Cypress Elementary, New Port Richey

"It doesn't matter what they look like. It's their personality and what they want to do for our country (that make a difference)."

Anna Doland, 16, 11th grade, East Lake High

"If one candidate looked to be healthier than the other based on appearance, my decision might be swayed. I think we need to keep heart attacks in the White House to a minimum."

Alex Brown, 17, 12th grade, Plant High, Tampa

"I don't believe looks play a role. They could be dressed really bad and be a good person, or in normal clothes and be a bad person."

Nick Gottschalk, 14, 10th grade, Seminole High

"I think good looks plus good policy equals a good candidate."

Vicky DeRenzo, 15, 11th grade, King High, Tampa

"I don't think it's their appearance that really matters because it's really if you have the same beliefs as the president, then you're going to vote for the one who is going to do what you want them to do."

Dominique Bunce, 17, 12th grade, East Lake High

"It's their political standpoint that matters, not what they look like."

Eddie Kulp, 17, 12th grade, St. Petersburg High

"If the person appears to look very trashy and inappropriate, then I don't want him leading our country."

Sage Pickren, 12, seventh grade, St. Paul's School, Clearwater

"They are all middle-aged white men. It doesn't really matter."

Meghan Bland, 17, 12th grade, East Lake High

"I don't feel like a candidate's appearance affects my support of him or her, but people's appearances affect our opinions more than we think. I think appearances sway people during their first impressions, but there is still plenty of time before an election for people to learn more about the issues and change their minds."

Presley Pizzo, 17, 12th grade, Plant High, Tampa

"It shouldn't matter what a candidate's appearance is. It depends on what their theories are and what they are going to do for the United States."

Allyson Freedy, 12, seventh grade, St. Paul's School, Clearwater

"The candidates' looks don't affect my vote, but their appearances do give a reason to laugh."

Tobias Schmid, 15, 10th grade, Palm Harbor University High

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