Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 13:26 UK

Voters' Views: Philip Craig Leiter

Republicans are gathering for their party convention in St Paul, Minnesota as the election campaign shifts up a gear.

Here eight Republican voters from across the US look ahead to the convention and reflect on the state of the party and their presumptive nominee John McCain.

Philip Craig Leiter Student | Republican

This is a chance for Republicans to get their message out

Philip Craig Leiter
Age: 18
Lives: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Occupation: Student
Last election voted:
Too young to vote
In 10 words or fewer: Realist, cosmopolitan, progressive, content

"The convention will have a great impact on the campaign since Obama is currently getting most of the media attention. This is a chance for Republicans to get their message out.

Senator McCain is a national war hero and an experienced politician.

He is distancing himself from President Bush and setting out his own platform.

There are the two main issues that concern me - national security and the economy. I will be noting closely what McCain has to say on these topics.

McCain should not pander to the religious right. He may lose some of the religious voters, but it would be a better way to win over independents.

His choice for running mate is stunning. Sarah Palin will enhance his image as a maverick and bring in votes from traditionalist Republicans.

The massive media coverage of Senator Obama is actually starting to backfire.

And Obama has been caught off-guard over foreign policy issues - seeming badly informed over the Georgia-Russia conflict. This will work greatly in McCain's favour.

Right now the US is in Iraq and Afghanistan and we are starting to see a resurgent Russia - so we need someone with a great deal of foreign policy experience like McCain. Obama's choice of Joe Biden running mate may help - but even Senator Biden has previously said Obama lacks experience."

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The readers' panel has been selected from as wide a cross-section of people as possible and may not be representative of wider US public opinion.

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