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Penn State Political Presidents Relax After Election Day

This story was written by Danielle Vickery, Daily Collegian

Andrew Natalo and Zachary Zabel weren't exactly working for the same cause a month ago. They didn't even talk.

But now, the presidents of Penn State Students for John McCain and Penn State Students for Barack Obama share at least one common goal: catching up on school work and trying to make it to the end of the semester.

They both said they're doing "not much" -- at least compared to the weeks leading up to Nov. 4.

For Natalo (junior-management), school was "that thing that kind of took a backseat during the election."

Classes are magically easier now, he said, since he's gotten back to studying. Natalo's having fun again, finding time to watch episodes of House and cook himself dinner.

Zabel (sophomore-geography), who had been getting five hours of sleep on a good night during election season and sometimes found himself sleeping in the Obama campaign office at 224 S. Allen St., now spends much of his time writing papers he had been putting off for most of the semester.

"It feels like I should be doing something, and I'm not," Zabel said. "I mean, the campaign was my first priority."

He said many of his friends from the Obama campaign had gone to Georgia to try to secure a Senate victory for Democrat Jim Martin, who lost to Republican Saxby Chambliss Tuesday night in the runoff election. But Zabel wants to stay at Penn State until graduation, although it wasn't an easy decision to make.

"I guess I sort of have to stay here," Zabel said. "There's a big part of me that wants to keep going."

And he plans to. Campaigning for Obama again in 2012 is a definite possibility for him, he said.

In the meantime, there will likely be a group of people from Penn State that will go to Obama's inauguration in January. He won't, however, be among them -- he'll be studying abroad in Italy.

But before his venture overseas, Zabel plans on keeping on top of the news and watching Obama assemble his White House staff, he said. The group is still together, at least for the time being.

On the other side of the aisle, Students for John McCain has since disbanded and joined forces with the Penn State College Republicans.

"Our mission statement was to get John McCain elected. So, technically, the group no longer has a mission," Natalo said.

This election season taught Natalo how to run a tough campaign even when he knew McCain's chances were looking slim, he said, and ultimately accept defeat.

And the possibility of McCain running for president again?

"He's done," Natalo said. "That's my gut feeling."

After McCain's overwhelming loss this year and Democrat John Kerry's defeat in 2004, America has seen the end of an era in which Vietnam veterans can run for president, he said. Natalo, for one, will be endorsing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2012.

"I'm sad we lost," Natalo said. "But I don't regret it's over."

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